Lenox, Wahconah baseball teams turn sights to MIAA semifinals
And then there were two.
The Wahconah and Lenox baseball teams take their Western Massachusetts championships into Tuesday's MIAA state semifinal round.
The Division III champion Warriors will travel to Tivnan Field along Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester for a 4 p.m. game against Central Mass. champion Groton-Dunstable.
Lenox just won its Division IV championship on Monday at Wahconah Park, but will turn right around and play Central Mass. champion Oxford Tuesday at 4 p.m. at Westfield State University.
The winners advance to Saturday's state championship games, to be played at Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field on the Holy Cross campus.
The Warriors beat Frontier Regional 13-3 on Saturday, claiming their first Western Mass. tournament title since winning a Division II crown in 2007. If you are looking for omens, that might be a good one because Wahconah reached the state championship game that year.
Wahconah (16-8) did not have an easy trek to the title, having to beat North Division rival Monument Mountain in the quarterfinals before knocking off top-seeded South Hadley 13-9 in the semifinal.
So, while omens might be on Wahconah's side, the Groton-Dunstable Crusaders are riding quite a wave.
Groton-Dunstable comes into the state semifinal with a perfect 21-0 record. The Crusaders knocked off defending champion Auburn 1-0 on Sunday at Holy Cross as Jacob Barnes had an RBI single in the third inning. It was the Crusaders' first-ever title. They hadn't been to the final since 2010.
It was a game that Wahconah coach Rob Cowdrey and his staff got to scout, and after practice Monday, Wahconah players said the coaches came away impressed.
Groton-Dunstable has two hard-throwing starters, Justin Watt and Joe Simeone. Simeone should toe the rubber on Tuesday. He pitched in a 4-2 win over Nipmuc in the semifinal. The Crusaders had only one hit in that game, but won.
The Oxford Pirates (17-4) seem to be a regular in Central Mass. finals. The Pirates have won three Central Mass. titles in the past five years. Oxford has been to four consecutive Central Mass. championship games.
Oxford was the top seed in Division IV, and reached Westfield by beating eighth-seeded Lunenberg and No. 5 Leicester, before knocking off third-seeded St. Bernard's 6-5. In that game, the Pirates got a walk-off single to break a 5-5 tie.
Oxford outscored its foes 21-12 in the tournament, while Lenox outscored the teams it beat 19-6.
Connor Hanson, who pitched a complete game in the Millionaires' 8-1 win over No. 2 seed Hopkins Academy in the semifinal, will take the mound today at Hagan Field.
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