Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Burns Powers Austin Prep to First State Final Appearance

By Matt Feld (@Mattyfeld612)

Lynn, Mass. – One season after coming up a game short, Austin Prep will play for a state championship.

Peter Burns drilled a two-run home run while Colin Jaena tossed a complete game to lead Austin Prep to a 5-3 win over Dedham in the Div. 3 State Semifinals on Tuesday night at Fraser Field in Lynn.

The Cougars (23-2) will make their first state championship appearance in school history on Saturday versus defending Division 1 champion Taconic. 

“I have had some of these kids since seventh grade,” said Austin Prep coach Steve Busby. “When you have some of them for six years you start to form a bond with them. I am just happy for Colin (Jaena) on the mound. Burns has been clutch in the playoffs and makes all of our pitchers better.”

Austin Prep held a 5-1 lead entering the top of the seventh, but the Marauders (16-5) came charging back. Peter Coughlin and Nik Mercuri each singled putting two on with one out. After Jaena came back with a strikeout to record the second out of the inning, Jason Leonard and Griffin O’Connor connected on consecutive RBI singles to pull Dedham within 5-3.

Jaena, however, induced a fielder’s choice for the final out of the frame to solidify the Cougars' berth in the state title game.

“Beginning of the year, our goal was to win the state championship and now we’re so close to that goal,” said Burns. “Coming into today we were super excited knowing that if we played our best baseball, we would win.”

In the top of the first, Dedham grabbed a 1-0 lead as a walk and an error set up David Logan's two out RBI single.

Austin Prep came right back in its home half of the frame. Dylan Arnold singled, moved all the way to third on a fielding error, and scored on Jaena’s RBI single to tie the game at one. Burns then dealt the biggest blow of the game turning on a 1-1 fastball for a two run shot to right field to give the Cougars a 3-1 advantage.

“I was just looking for a pitch to drive,” said Burns. “With how high we have come these last four years, this is such a cool moment.”

Trailing by a pair in the top of the fourth, Dedham had a chance to tie the score as Billy Casey singled and Shawn Nosky doubled to put two in scoring position. Jaena, however, induced a soft fly out to center and a ground ball to shortstop to evade the jam unscathed.

“I knew my defense was behind me,” said Jaena. “I just knew we were going to make plays and I trusted myself to make pitches.”

While the Marauders missed an opportunity to scratch across a pair, Austin Prep took full advantage of its chance to gain some breathing room in the bottom of the fourth. 

Burns led off with a walk, and Logan Bravo lined a double down the left field line to give the Cougars second and third with nobody out. Nick Carafelli then came through drilling a slider back through the box for a two-run single to give Austin Prep a 5-1 cushion.

"I tip my hat to Dedham they really competed against us," said Busby. "Colin has grinded all season long. He is a competitor. He has helped us a lot on the mound this year. He's had a tremendous year."

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