BROCKTON — It would have been easy to fold, but that was never contemplated by the Mansfield High baseball team.
The No. 7 seed Hornets overcame an 8-1 deficit after three innings before coming up short in a 10-9 walk-off defeat to No. 5 seed Boston College High on Wednesday at Campanelli Stadium in a loser’s bracket game of the MIAA Division 1-A Super Eight Tournament.
The Hornets scored eight unanswered runs to take a one-run lead in the seventh inning.
“It doesn’t surprise me in the slightest that we came back in that game,” Mansfield coach Joe Breen said. “And that has nothing to do with the coaches. It’s 100 percent the pure heart, passion and determination by a senior class that has done nothing but take this program to where it is.”
Mansfield had a chance to score the go-ahead run in the ninth inning when Hornets’ relief pitcher John Carney (two hits) led off the frame with a single to center field. With a pinch runner on, Mansfield seemed to execute a perfect hit-and-run, but the lead runner was thrown out rounding third base. It would have given Mansfield runners at the corners with nobody out in a tie game.
“We had a lot of opportunities to win this baseball game and a lot of opportunities to prevent them from winning the baseball game,” Breen said. “We didn’t execute defensively enough to beat them. You can point to one thing or the other, obviously I think the timing of one thing makes it sting a little bit more.”
Mansfield and BC High each made six errors, including a pair of Hornet miscues in the third inning, along with six BC High hits to fuel an eight-run outburst by the Eagles.
BC High scored the winning run in the ninth inning when Stephen Parsons drew a leadoff walk, advanced to second on an overthrow on a pickoff attempt and came home on Pat Roche’s RBI single to right-center field.
The Hornets (19-6) used a three-run fourth inning and a four-run sixth inning to tie the score at 8-8 through six frames. Mansfield took a one-run lead with a one-run seventh inning before BC High tied it with an unearned run in the bottom half of the inning.
Carney was the third pitcher used by Mansfield and worked 3 2/3 innings, surrendering just three hits and one earned run to tame BC High and allow the Hornets room to recover.
“In my opinion, he’s one of the best pitchers in the state,” Breen said. “He’s been a big-time gamer for us and he wants the ball in those situations. It was a no-brainer to give it to him.”
The Hornets scored seven earned runs with Sam Nugent (three RBIs), Garrett Burke (two hits) and Carney (two hits) pacing the attack.
Mansfield took the lead as Garrett Burke led off the one-run seventh with a single to right field, went to second base on an overthrow, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Nick Dumouchel and scored on a throwing error.
During the four-run sixth inning, Nugent slapped a two-run double to right field to score Dumouchel (single) and Jake Lund (walk). Dan Saraceno and Eric Longley each added an RBI single.
In the three-run fourth inning, Kyle Moran scored on a wild pitch. Matt Scibilia connected on an RBI triple to left centerfield. and then scored on a fielder’s choice by Jake Lund.
Mansfield held a brief 1-0 lead in the third inning on a Nugent sacrifice fly to score Lund (leadoff double).
Mansfield, playing in the “Super Eight” series for a second successive season, graduates 13 seniors on the roster.
“I couldn’t be happier coaching at a school like Mansfield, in a community like Mansfield,” Breen said. “At the end of the day, we lost a baseball game. But I got to spend the better part of three months every single day with these kids. I’ll never be able to replace that.”