LYNN -- The Dracut High baseball team faced Masconomet on Wednesday night, the second straight year the squads have met in the state tournament.
Masconomet 2, DHS 1
In those two contests, a grand total of five runs have been scored. Unfortunately for the Middies, only one has been plated by them.
This latest matchup in the budding postseason rivalry featured masterful performances on the mound by Dracut senior lefty Stig McElhinney and Masco senior righty Joe Klingensmith at Fraser Field.
In the end, second-seeded Masconomet's two-run bottom of the fourth produced a 2-1 victory that ended the season for the No. 6 Middies for the second straight year in the Division 2 North semifinals.
"Before and after that fourth inning it was just a shutdown pitcher's duel," said Dracut head coach Mike Saucier, whose team got its lone run in the top of the fourth. "Both pitchers pitched well, threw hard, threw strikes. I've got to give (Masco) a lot of credit. They're a good team, they scrapped and ended up with one more than us. Just a good high school baseball game."
The Chieftains (20-2) advance to Saturday's North final against Gloucester or North Andover at Lowell's LeLacheur Park. Dracut finished 15-8.
Klingensmith, who is headed to UMass Amherst to continue his career, went the distance for the win. He allowed three hits and struck out five. He did, however, issue six free passes, including walking the bases loaded in the top of the seventh. Klingensmith was able to get Dracut No. 3 hitter Zach Mellanakos to pop out to the catcher in foul territory to end the game.
The Nichols College-bound McElhinney was the hard-luck loser. He also pitched a complete game, scattering four hits and two walks, while fanning nine.
"When we got that first run it was like a weight off my shoulder. I know that one through nine on our team we're going up to the plate to compete," said McElhinney. "I felt that run would be enough for us to pull it out. There isn't enough I can say about the guys on this team and the character. I couldn't hand-pick a better team."
The Middies struck first in the top of the fourth when senior Dan Zabbo led off with a single and came around to score when junior Chris Seidl followed with a double that one-hopped the left-field wall. But getting just the one run after that start to the inning ended up being a missed opportunity.
"The first inning we had a couple of guys on (stranded at second and third) and didn't get anyone in. That hurt. Then that fourth inning where you get one in and a guy on second with nobody out. I didn't think that would be it for sure, but that's one that you look at."
Masco struck right back in the bottom of the fourth when Klingensmith helped himself by leading off with a double. Senior catcher Michael Manni followed with a single. On that hit, Klingensmith held at third but drew a throw to the bag. Manni then broke for second, which drew an errant throw by Seidl into center field. Klingensmith scored on the play.
Manni scored the winning run later in the fourth when he came home on another Dracut throwing error on a routine grounder with two outs that would've ended the inning with the score tied 1-1.
"We go over offensive baserunning every single day," said Masco coach TJ Baril. "We know it's extremely important. Manni taking that extra base and we get the ball thrown away and a run in. We talk about it before the game -- go 100 percent because 99 percent might not be good enough."
There were no hits in the fifth, sixth or seventh innings. Both pitchers did all they could to put their teams in position to win. But Dracut, which had won its first two tourney games by a combined score of 23-5, couldn't find any offense.
"This was an awesome season for us," said Saucier. "This was the best group of kids I've ever been involved with. We play (Masco) 10 times, I think we each win five. I think we're as good as any team in the state in D2. I'm really proud of our effort."
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