WORCESTER - Peter Oggiani wasn't in a blaming mood Saturday after Monument Mountain's 11-5 loss to Bellingham in the MIAA Division III state baseball championship game.
Errors may have kept Bellingham rallies alive and allowed the Blackhawks to score eight of their 11 runs with two outs, but Oggiani kept the focus on himself as the pitcher of record.
"I kind of tend to look within. I blame myself, though it's a team effort," he said. "We should have been out of the fifth inning before they got a lot of those runs."
The Western Mass. champion Spartans did plenty to help themselves offensively, and Oggiani settled into a groove after giving up five runs in the first inning. However, the Blackhawks opened the floodgates in the fifth, picking up an RBI single, reaching on an outfield error and then picking up a Brad Rebello RBI triple and a towering two-run home run by Kevin Martinis. All of these plays occurred with two outs in the frame.
The homer ended Oggiani's day on the mound. Oggiani was upbeat after the loss, though, choosing to focus on the positives of the best season in the Spartans' history - and giving credit to the Bellingham offense that scored 11 times.
"They were a great-hitting team, and probably the best team I've faced in my high school career," he said. "As a pitcher, it kind of breaks your back when they keep getting two-out hits. But I didn't have my best stuff today, and they took advantage."
The Blackhawks were also able to take advantage of opportunities the Spartans gave them in the first inning, after Monument scored twice to start the game. With two down and two runs already in, David Sampson reached on a Bobby Kinne error to give Bellingham a 3-2 lead. Anthony Crowley followed that with a double to left, and Reed Pike doubled the next at-bat to drive in both Sampson and Crowley.
"Usually, when people make mistakes on us we keep going off of that," said Sampson, who pitched a dominant five innings in relief of Mark Birch. "It gives us more enthusiasm, and makes us know we can go out there and hit the ball."
Not all of Bellingham's opportunities came off Monument errors, though. Some were flat-out earned, like Sean Postler's two-out RBI single to center field in the fifth. Spartan outfielder Branden Perry made a full-extension dive for the rapidly sinking fly ball, but just couldn't hold on for what would have been the third out.
"Brandon, I thought he was going to come up with that diving catch," Monument coach Tom Hankey said. "He was close. But that's baseball. It's a game of inches."