GROTON, CONN.—Throughout the New England Collegiate Baseball League season the Ocean State Waves more or less handled the Mystic Schooners.
The Waves took four of six regular season match ups and did so in convincing fashion, outscoring the Schooners 42-15 in the process.
The playoffs are a whole different animal though and as Monday’s contest proved, the Schooners were a much improved team compared to the one the Waves saw earlier this summer.
“From [Sunday] to [Monday] the bats just rolled,” Ocean State’s Evan Ocello said. “They put up 18 against us and their pitchers just rolled. It happens. You have to string together some hits and unfortunately we couldn’t.”
Mystic took game one of the best-of-three Eastern Division Semifinals 11-2 at Old Mountain Field Sunday, and completed the sweep Monday at Fitch High School with a 7-1 victory.
“You battle throughout a long season, you get to a certain point [and] baseball’s a crazy game,” Ocean State manager Rian McCarthy said. “Some things happen. The kids worked hard, it’s not like they were giving up at bats or anything. It’s just that hits weren’t falling for us.”
The Schooners got a tremendous start from St. Bonaventure right hander Joel Rosencrance, who allowed just one run on four hits over seven innings.
Monday’s game started well enough for the Waves as Ocello lined a single to right to open it up and then stole second to get into scoring position.
Following a Caden Bailey strike out, Mike Gerber drew a walk but both runners would be stranded as Shaun McGraw struck out and Pat Quinn flew out to second to end the threat.
The Waves would have to wait until the top of the sixth inning to get another runner into scoring position but by that time Mystic had already put the game well out of reach.
Keaton Flint got things going for the Schooners with a lead-off single in the bottom of the first, while Alec Keller followed a Tyler Boyd strikeout with a double to plate Flint from first.
A pair of wild pitches allowed Keller to score what would proved to be the winning run as Mystic took a 2-0 advantage after the first.
“I felt like that was a big step for us to try and go out and get the lead,” McCarthy said. “We got a lead off runner on in the first, same thing as last night looking to manufacture some runs and we didn’t.”
The Schooners struck again in the bottom of the third as Boyd and Keller scored two more runs despite Mystic only recording one hit in the inning.
A two RBI double from Boyd in the bottom of the fourth increased the Schooners lead to 6-0 before Ocean State finally got on the board in the top of the sixth.
Ocello led off with a bunt single and – following a Bailey fly out to center – Gerber hit an infield single to put runners on first and second.
A wild pitch advanced both runners into scoring position and Ocello then scored on a McGraw ground out to short.
Gerber ended the inning stuck at third, however, as Quinn lined out to first to end the Waves’ rally.
From there the Schooners’ pitching staff took over, as Nick Sebastian was the only Ocean State player to reach base in the final three innings after his two-out walk in the seventh.
“Mystic swang the heck out of the bats.” McCarthy said. “There’s nothing we can do about it.”