The Mount Everett baseball team has made some school history by winning its first Western Massachusetts Division III baseball title. The Eagles are two games away from making more.
The Eagles play Central Massachusetts champion Oxford at 4 this afternoon at Szot Park in Chicopee. A win today will put the Eagles into Saturday's state final.
"We don't get very many of these and the last one was 22 years ago," Everett coach Jesse Carpenter said.
The Eagles were met Saturday when their bus got off the Massachusetts Turnpike by a Sheffield fire truck and they were escorted back to the high school.
"We've had a couple of [postseason] heartbreakers recently. For us as an athletic community, we needed this one bad," said Carpenter. "It's really big for us and the community."
The Eagles got here by blowing out Smith Academy and St. Joseph's before shutting out Pioneer Valley 5-0 and beating Frontier Regional 3-1 on Saturday. Everett got a big effort out of Dylan Wheeler in the title clincher.
Today, Carpenter is going to go with junior left-hander Erik Derwitsch. Derwitsch was on the hill in the shutout of Pioneer.
"He had a couple of starts late in the year that were rough," Carpenter said. "He's been pretty close to flawless [since]."
Offensively, Carpenter said his team can hit for power and can play small ball if need be. Wheeler, Colby Rueger, Will Danz, Garrett Torrico and Alex Crane are among the Eagles that can bring it with the bat.
The Pirates earned their way here by beating Hopedale 1-0 in the Central Mass. title game at Tivnan Field. Nick Lemay tossed a three-hit shutout and struck out seven.
Justin Richards is in his fourth year as the Oxford head coach. He played for and coached with Joe Small at Hopedale. Winning the title against his mentor and friend made for an interesting Sunday afternoon in Worcester.
"It was interesting," Richards said Monday night. "I'm glad we both made the finals. It was very interesting shaking his hand after the game."
Central Mass. teams are seeded by winning percentage and the Pirates earned a fourth seed with a 15-5 record and .750 winning percentage. The Pirates did not give up a run in the Central Mass. tournament. Oxford had a first-round bye before shutting out fifth-seeded Abby Kelley 9-0. Oxford then shut out No. 8 Narragansett 7-0 in the semifinals before beating Hopedale in the title game.
"Our pitching and defense has kind of been our strength all year," said Richards. "They keep us in all of our games."
Oxford used a squeeze bunt in the top of the seventh inning to beat third-seeded Hopedale. Nick Bates tripled and Cody Stone dropped down the squeeze bunt to bring the run home.
Lemay is 8-0 with a 0.29 earned-run average, but because he threw on Sunday, the Eagles won't see him today. Instead, junior right-hander Nick Cardoni will take the mound.
Cardoni got the shutout against Narragansett. He is a first-year pitcher.
"Going into the off-season, we had no idea who was going to throw behind [Lemay]," said Richards. "Nick has pitched better than the other guys and became the No. 2."
The Pirates have only 14 players on the roster and the nine starters have been ironmen. Lemay had been hitting .444 with three home runs, while Cardoni hits .393.
"At this point, it's all about us," said Carpenter. "You can scout teams. For us, it comes down to do we make the plays and get hits."