Eagles display their toughness
LYNN — As of Friday night, Jamie Dougherty wasn’t sure he’d be able to suit up for Plymouth North in the Division 2 state title game after being plunked by a pitch in the semifinals.
The pitch bruised a bone in Dougherty’s right elbow, but luckily for the Eagles, the injury didn’t keep Dougherty out of last night’s game. Plymouth North topped Hudson, 3-1, with Dougherty receiving much of the postgame spotlight.
“He shouldn’t even have played,’’ Plymouth North coach Dwayne Follette said. “He’s got a nasty elbow. He showed the character of this program and this team.’’
Dougherty’s shining moment came in the bottom of the sixth inning. Plymouth had worked a 3-0 lead off Hudson starter Ryan Bowen (seven innings, three earned runs), but a pair of four-pitch walks by Eagles starter Alex Rozak gave the Hawks men on first and second and no outs.
Rozak had been effective up to that point, limiting the Hawks to two hits and no runs through five. However, the senior righthander was working on just three days’ rest since striking out 12 Somerset batters in the Division 2 South final, and fatigue got the best of him in the sixth.
“Rozak was tired,’’ Follette said. “It was time. It was time to go to [Cody] Holmes.’’
Holmes, a junior righty who hadn’t seen much postseason action on the mound, showed early signs of rust, issuing a full-count walk to senior Josh King to load the bases for Hudson’s designated hitter, Tim Walsh.
Walsh grounded the first pitch through the hole to the left side, scoring pinch runner Scott Tobin and cutting the lead to 3-1.
Holmes coerced Joey Ribeiro into a pop to first-baseman John Myette in the next at-bat, but it was the inning’s second out that Follette said he will always remember.
Hudson center fielder Chris Tobin ripped a 2-2 pitch into the right-side hole, and Dougherty, sporting an elbow guard to protect his bruised joint, laid out and robbed Tobin of a hit.
“I mean, Cody was just pounding the zone, pounding the zone,’’ Dougherty said. “The kid got a pretty good hit on the ball, but I got a good read on it and made a good play.’’
Hudson leadoff batter Jake Wardwell lined to short on the next pitch, and Plymouth North escaped the bases-loaded, no-out situation ahead by two runs.
Holmes sat down the Hawks in order in the seventh, ensuring Plymouth North its first state title since 2008.
The Eagles chipped away at Bowen early, plating one run in the first, third, and fourth innings.
In the first, Bowen plunked leadoff man Zach Zaniboni with his first pitch, and on the second, Plymouth second baseman Jamie Dougherty turned a sacrifice bunt attempt into a base hit with a perfectly placed trickler down the third base line.
Zaniboni advanced to third on a long line out by Matt Walsh, then scored when left fielder Mike Cahill looped a sacrifice fly to center.
Dougherty accounted for the third-inning run after lining a double down the right-field line. The junior advanced to third on a ground out by Walsh, then scored on a gaffe by Bowen. The senior pitcher was called for a balk after bobbling the ball coming into his set.
Senior Zach Prifti led off the fourth inning with a double to left-center, and later, pinch runner Corey Boudreau scored on Doug Maccaferri’s line-drive single up the middle.