No Published CaptionSun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.
No Published Caption

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

LOWELL -- Jack Hansbury began his Saturday taking an SAT math test at Central Catholic High School in Lawrence.

The test was supposed to get underway at 8 a.m., but he didn't begin using his No. 2 pencil in earnest until roughly 8:30.

Since math is Hansbury's favorite subject. Chelmsford's slugger knew the odds of him making it to LeLacheur Park in Lowell for the start of the Lions' 10 a.m. Division 1 North Sectional baseball semifinal against Methuen weren't good.

When the game began Hansbury was changing into his uniform in the parking lot. He arrived in the Lions' dugout about 15 minutes after the first pitch.

He entered the game in the fourth inning as a pinch-hitter and promptly lined a single. Hansbury remained in the game as the DH and came up big in the seventh inning with the game on the line.

On this busiest of June mornings, the numbers produced by Hansbury and his Lion teammates added up to one dramatic victory.

Hansbury knocked in what proved to be the winning run as the Lions overcame a one-run deficit in the top of the seventh by scoring three runs to rally past Methuen, 7-5, in this Division 1 North semifinal thriller.

Chelmsford (13-10) will play Andover (15-8) in the Division 1 North final Sunday at 6 p.m. at Fraser Field in Lynn.

"I got here right around the first batter," said Hansbury, a junior.


"I was changing in the parking lot and kids from my school came past me and asked what was going on.

"I'm glad I was able to play. I've been struggling a little coming into this game. But my teammates kept telling me it's going to come back. Coach (Mike O'Keefe) kept putting me in the lineup, and I was able to come through today. It's a great feeling."

Both Chelmsford and Methuen were missing players, including several starters, due to the fact the start time conflicted with SAT tests that were given Saturday morning.

The Lions had two players, Hansbury and Quinn Cooney, who took SAT subject tests and were able to arrive shortly after the start of the game. Other players weren't as fortunate.

Four Chelmsford players -- Mike Tice, Ben Sauter, Quinn Jackson and Alex Hill -- missed the entire game due to taking SATs. Methuen was missing three players who took the test.

Chelmsford, which graduated Saturday night, and Methuen contacted the MIAA in the hope of rescheduling the game. When the MIAA refused, both schools reportedly gave serious consideration to boycotting the game before deciding to play.

"Once the game started it really wasn't hard to play," said Chelmsford coach Mike O'Keefe. "Everything leading up to it was challenging. Once the decision was made to play we focused on the game. We had a meeting this morning and told the guys it is what it is. We are not going to use it as an excuse at all.

"We had some kids who had an opportunity to step up and they absolutely did. These are high school kids and once the game starts they just want to play baseball. I think this situation was tougher on the adults than it was on them."

Chelmsford's game-winning rally began with Cooney and Mike DeDonato drawing bases loaded walks and Jack Campsmith singling to load the bases.

Eric Rose evened the score, 5-5, with a sacrifice fly. After Derek Adamson was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Hansbury knocked in what proved to be the winning run on a ground ball to short. Mike Koechlin drove in the third run of the frame with a sacrifice fly.

Reliever Jesse Ashley pitched the final 1 1/3 innings, including a 1-2-3 seventh, to get the win on the mound.

"There was no doubt in my mind that we'd win," said Hansbury. "We've been in spots like that before and we've come through. In our dugout we were confident. Everyone was ready, and we came through."

Methuen had wiped out a 4-0 Chelmsford lead with five runs in the bottom of the sixth. The key hits were a 3-run double by Evan Lacroix and a 2-run double by Jonathan Pierce.

Chelmsford scored three runs in the fourth to take a 3-0 lead. Adamson and Joe Levesque had run-scoring singles, and the other run scored on a wild pitch. In the top of the sixth, Levesque knocked in the Lions' fourth run.

Alex Palermo and DeDonato had one hit each. Chelmsford starting pitcher Daylon Thompson turned in a strong outing, allowing only 1 run on 4 hits in 5-plus innings.

"It's been a grind of a season," said O'Keefe. "But we've come together and jelled at the right time. They deserve what's happening to them. I couldn't be prouder of a bunch of kids."

Follow Carmine Frongillo on Twitter and Tout @cwfrongi