Monument Mountain's lineup feels confident heading to state baseball final
Having plated five runs in the fifth inning Wednesday, and the pitching and defense solid, the Monument Mountain baseball team didn't have to score again to win its MIAA Division III state semifinal.
And at least one Spartan isn't concerned about the lack of offense in the other innings.
"We got the ‘W,' " senior Bobby Kinne said Friday. "In this time of the season, you're not hitting for average. It's survive and advance.
"All that matters is we're playing. ... We played well enough to win."
The Spartans make their first-ever appearance in a state championship game at noon today at Worcester's Fitton Field. The Western Mass. champion Spartans will meet Eastern Mass. champ Bellingham.
No matter the pitcher in front of them -- who, as of Thursday, had yet to be determined by Bellingham coach T.J. Chiappone -- the Spartans will look to start producing runs earlier than they did in Wednesday's 5-2 semifinal win over Northbridge.
That could start with leadoff hitter Trevor McFarland. If there's pressure to get on base early and often, the junior says it's coming mostly from himself -- even if Kinne grinned and gave an over-exaggerated nod, and catcher T.J. Shumsky playfully tapped his bat on his hand while staring at McFarland.
"I love it. I want to see the pitches," McFarland said. "I can see a lot of pitches. I can work a walk relatively easy. I've had a couple from [an 0-2 count]."
If McFarland's on base, it's typically up to the next few hitters -- Brandon Perry, Kinne, Peter Oggiani and Shumsky -- to turn baserunners into run scorers. They were able to do that in the fifth inning Wednesday, when McFarland drew a two-out walk. That was followed by five consecutive hits, the latter four scoring runs for Monument.
For Kinne, Wednesday's turning point was actually two innings before that, when he grounded into an inning-ending fielder's choice with the bases loaded. Northbridge led 2-0, but Kinne saw better things ahead.
"I came up and didn't deliver, but we knew we were getting guys on base, and there was a seed of doubt planted in their mind," he said. "We're all confident we can turn the order over to the top. Once Trevor worked the walk and Perry delivered as he always does, everyone followed suit."
The Spartans believe -- as all successful teams do -- that they have solid hitters up and down the order, not just in the heart of the lineup. Dominic DeFelice, the No. 6 hitter in the order, drove in the fifth run of the game Wednesday. He said there wasn't much of a difference between Northbridge pitching in the postseason and, say, Pittsfield pitching in a regular-season North Division game.
"Pittsfield had good pitchers, as did Northbridge," DeFelice said. "The only difference was that we were playing at a nicer field.
"We all expect to get on base; that's what you do in baseball. All we need to look for are base hits."
And if the hits start coming one after the other, the Spartans' confidence grows.
"[In the state semifinal], when we got down, everyone was freaking out and being negative," Oggiani, today's starting pitcher, said. "But we rallied behind each other. We didn't take ourselves too seriously. With that attitude, we don't feel pressure. We can come back to win, like the last game."
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