NORTH READING —Championship baseball teams are built from the mound out.
And on a day when the region was in the grip of a heat wave, Dracut pitcher Mike Moore turned up the heat index on the mound.
With the league title there for the taking, Moore kept his cool. The hard-throwing right-hander was in command of his emotions and all his pitches, recording one big out after another in a game where he had little margin for error.
Moore gave up one run on three hits with five strikeouts in five-plus innings while earning the win as Dracut beat North Reading, 3-1, at North Reading High Tuesday to sweep the Northeast League championship series, 2-0.
Reliever Matt Miller pitched out of an inherited jam in the bottom of the sixth inning while tossing two scoreless innings with no hits allowed and two strikeouts to notch the save.
Kyle Mackay, Moore and Sean McMeniman had run-scoring singles for Dracut, which finished the summer with a 14-3-1 record. Dracut won Game 1 of the series, 10-2.
North Reading (12-6) received a strong effort on the mound from Joe Frammartino, who limited Dracut to three runs and seven hits with four strikeouts in 6.2 innings.
“They made us work for it,” said Dracut coach AJ Proia. “It was a well pitched game by both sides. We had the grit needed to win. Mike was unbelievable. He worked his butt off in some hot, hot weather. He did his job on the mound. He got some huge outs when we needed them. And often they were strikeouts. Mike was able to come up with the pitches he needed to throw at key times.
“He was very composed out there. I knew when we needed to get the outs, and he had to come up big, Mike would come through. That’s why we had him pitching today.”
Moore did a nice job mixing up his pitches. He worked out of a bases loaded jam in the second inning. All three hits Moore allowed were singles.
“This is awesome,” said Moore, a rising senior at Dracut High. “My teammates really helped me out. They made some big plays in the field. I knew no matter where I threw it we’d make the plays.
“It was hot out there, but I’m always sweating. I battled through it. I’m just happy I was able to help us win this championship. We won this. And we want to win the MVC (Division 2) title next year. This was like the first step toward reaching that goal.”
The game was scoreless through four innings before Dracut scored two runs in the fifth and a run in the sixth.
In the fifth inning, Jason Tyler drew a leadoff walk, stole second base and scored on Mackay’s single to center. Moore helped his own cause with a base hit to left that knocked in Mackay.
“Mackay had a great at-bat,” said Proia. “Right before we came up to bat that inning, I told them, ‘We have to make this pitcher work a little bit. Be patient and wait for your pitch. But still stay aggressive.’ Kyle took that to heart. He waited for his pitch and put a great swing on the ball.”
In the sixth, Kyle Cox hustled out an infield single and came around to score on McMeniman’s base hit.
Dracut loaded the bases with no outs in the second and failed to score. In the bottom of the second, North Reading loaded the bases and came away with no runs thanks to a great running catch in deep center field by Pat O’Toole for the third out of the frame.
“At first it looked like he may have sat for half a second too long and gave me a mini heart attack,” said Proia.”But then he got back there. If there’s a kid in the outfield who can get the job done it’s Pat. That was a great running catch. He can track the ball.”
North Reading scored its run in the bottom of the sixth on a hit by Mario Perrone.
Moore, who smacked a double in the seventh, and McMeniman had two hits each. O’Toole and Miller chipped in with one hit apiece.
Dracut received strong play in the infield from Mackay (first base), Devin Hodgdon (second base), Jack Leahy (second base), Harper Soucy (shortstop) and Jake Pynn (third base).
Dracut won the North Division title during the regular season and went 4-1 in the postseason.
“This was great for me as a alumni from Dracut,” said Proia. “There’s nothing better than coaching this team to the championship. I played on the Dracut team that won the (Northeast League) title in 2010. So I’ve won it as a player and a coach. I can tell you it’s definitely better to win as a coach. I miss my playing days, but I’ve really enjoyed coaching these guys. It’s a great group.”