Worcester 5 — Dorchester 2
CAMBRIDGE — Worcester Post 166’s American Legion baseball team advanced to the state tournament Thursday night, completing a two-game sweep of Dorchester Post 91 at J. Edward Walter Jr. Park.
Worcester, which defeated Dorchester 8-2 in Berlin on Wednesday in the first game of the best-of-three series, gave up an early run but scored in four other innings for a 5-2 victory in Game 2.
Worcester is scheduled to face the Southern Maryland champ at 10 a.m. on July 29 in Cumberland in the opening game of the state tournament, a double-elimination event including eight teams.
“They’re a good, solid team, and they’ve got a couple of top-end pitchers that they can run out there,” Dorchester manager Frank Whirley said. “We’ve battled them all season.
In Wednesday night’s opener, Worcester put up a five-spot in the bottom of the first at Berlin Little League Park against Dorchester starter Khalik Beasley. Five hits, two walks, and a pair of outfield errors helped power the rally.
Dorchester answered in the top of the second, one on a Noah Presley double, the next when Troy Turner tripled to score Presley. But 5-2 was as close as it got.
“I thought it was a big hurdle, the five-run inning, “Whirley said, “but I also felt like it was one we could overcome.
“When we played Annapolis a couple of weeks ago, they did the same thing, hung up five runs on us in the first inning,” Whirley recalled. “But we settled down on the mound, and we pitched better, and we started hitting, and chipping away at that lead. The next thing you know, it’s 5-5 in the fifth inning.”
“In the first game, we were hoping we could do the same thing,” Whirley added, “but Hayden Snelsire’s a heck of a pitcher. He threw a great game.”
Snelsire, who went 6 1/3 innings in Wednesday’s win, struck out nine while yielding just three hits and two walks. Worcester cushioned its lead with single runs in the third, fifth, and sixth. Snelsire scored twice.
In the second contest, Worcester opened with one-out hits by Snelsire and Tristan McDonough, but Dorchester’s defense behind starting right-hander Adam Freeman kept the guests off the board, shortstop Ryan Teaman snagging the next batted ball and tossing it to Shamar Young at third to force the lead runner. The next batter grounded to second, ending the top of the first.
Dorchester leadoff man Beasley walked, stole second, and took third on a passed ball in the bottom of the first. Young’s grounder to second scored him to put Post 91 up 1-0.
The lead lasted until the top of the third. McDonough’s leadoff triple, followed by Ryan Duncan’s RBI ground out to short tied the game.
Dawson Delaney led off the top of the fourth with a walk. A sacrifice moved him into scoring position, and with two outs, Hayden Snelsire singled to left.
Delaney dove in and was called safe under the tag of Dorchester catcher Presley; though the ruling was disputed, it stood, and Worcester led 2-1. Snelsire, who had advanced to second on the throw home, was retired for the inning’s final out when Presley threw to Young, who tagged out Snelsire.
Worcester added a run in the top of the fifth when Duncan singled with one out, eventually scoring on Ashten Snelsire’s squeeze bunt. Delaney tripled to start the Worcester sixth, and Gavin Bunting’s squeeze bunt scored him. Bunting made first on an error on that play, and scored on a Hayden Snelsire sac fly.
Dorchester scored once in the bottom of the seventh, Dylan Smith doubling to left and scoring two batters later on Presley’s sac fly.
McDonough, who pitched a complete game Thursday, got the final out by picking up Tommy Crain’s ground ball and charging him, knocking Crain to the ground rather than simply tagging him out, a move which incited ire from the home team and its adherents. Umpires prevented the play from escalating into anything more.
“Tristan threw really well,” Whirley said. “After the first inning, he settled right in and from the second inning through about the sixth, he was really strong.
“I’m proud of what the boys did, even though we’re out now,” said Whirley, whose team has made the playoffs in each of his three years at the helm. “We only lose one player, (pitcher/infielder) Clint Meekins, to age off this team. ... I don’t know how many will come back; you never do. But I think we’ve got some potential for next year.”
Stoneham, Mass. 3
BANGOR, MAINE — A three-run spurt in the top of the second inning gave Maryland state champion Caroline a lead it never surrendered Thursday at Mansfield Stadium in the opening game of the Eastern Regional.
Jayden Watkins opened Caroline’s second with a single. Will Turner (2 for 3, walk) doubled. Chris Curler’s single plated Watkins, and an Adam Boyles hit scored Turner. Curler came home on an error in right field.
Caroline starter Owen Nagel went 5 1/3 innings, yielding two earned runs. Stoneham (7-1) threatened in the bottom of the sixth, and nearly tied things up, an error scoring one run, and a wild pitch scoring another.
Reliever Jaden Rowan closed the door, though, ending that rally with a strikeout and a fly ball to left.
Caroline (8-0) added a run in the top of the seventh, P.J. Gunther’s sacrifice fly scoring Mason Pate.
Rowan pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh to pick up the save. Caroline outhit Massachusetts, 10-3.
Caroline, looking to become the first Maryland team to make the Senior League World Series in eight years, takes on Rhode Island at 4:30 p.m. today.