BILLERICA — Given the way they’ve played all season en route to winning their second straight Commonwealth Athletic Conference championship, it probably shouldn’t have come as a surprise that the Shawsheen Tech baseball team was in the first round of the Massachusetts State Vocational won a tournament on Remembrance Day.
But even as well as they played, it was still pretty impressive to see the top-seeded Rams win in a loss against a very good Blackstone Valley Tech roster, beating the visitors 11-0 to go 18-3 improve Overall, during the season they earned a spot in Wednesday’s professional championship game, where they were due to play the winner of the other semi-final game between No. 2 Bay Path and No. 3 Diman Vocational in Shawsheen on Wednesday.
“Blackstone is a forever good team in the state. They compete regularly in the state and professional tournaments,” said Shawsheen coach Brian McCarthy. “However, we were locked in at the plate and got great pitching and defense. We could bounce early and often and that takes away from the other team’s ability to really play their game. That was a great team win.”
It certainly was, as the Rams made many big contributions on offense that day. But none was bigger than junior first baseman Mike Maselli of Wilmington, who was 3-on-3 that day with two ground-rule doubles and a two-run home run that smashed over the fence in right field. He finished the day with three RBI and two runs scored.
“Mike has been seeing the ball well lately and getting some great bats. He swung the hot stick the whole game with three monster shots,” McCarthy said. “The two-run big homer was the first home run in a Shawsheen game since the new turf field was installed in 2017. It’s a shot out there and Mike made it look like a little league field with his hits today.
“It’s a pleasure coaching Mike. He works so hard at his craft and it shows. Every day he puts his head down and just goes to work.”
Maselli wasn’t the only one to start the Rams offense, however, as he was joined by junior Mavrick Bourdeau, who had a double, two runs, 2 RBI, as well as junior Aiden MacLeod, who had one hit and two RBI. Senior Ryan Santini of Wilmington, meanwhile, had two runs scored and one RBI, while senior Owen Duggan had a triple, one run scored and one RBI.
The week before, the Rams’ offense had exploded in a 20-0 win over Greater Lowell to lift the CAC title and they did it again in that all-important game in the first round of the professional tournament, McCarthy, of course, was very happy to see his team rise in a big moment.
“We’re talking about staying the course and taking things one game at a time. Don’t look too far ahead and disappointment can set in and you lose focus on the goals at hand,” McCarthy said. “So it was great to tick off goal number one last week by winning the CAC Championship. Then qualifying for the state professional tournament as number one on the seeding list was great. It was nice to be able to host this prestigious tournament instead of traveling across the state over Memorial Day weekend.”
While the Rams didn’t need a stellar pitching effort with the way their offense hit the ball, they got one nonetheless when junior left Conlen Powell threw another gem, closing the entire game. Powell scattered just three hits while hitting three batters. Second-place catcher Brendan Lee, meanwhile, called a great play behind the plate and the defense was outstanding all day in the field behind Powell.
“Conlen played a great game. He located all of his courts effectively, got his defense behind him and quickly got us back in goal after several big innings,” McCarthy said. “You love it when a pitcher works efficiently – the defense is willing to play behind them and loves to do so.
“Brendan has really developed as a catcher this year. He’s only a sophomore, but he now names his own games and has a great feel for his staff. Lee has a good relationship with all of his pitchers and knows how to set up hitters. He has a lot of energy back there that you need in a catcher over a long season.”
The win was also big for the Rams in that it followed a 13-0 loss to Arlington Catholic on Friday last week. It was the second time in a week that the Rams came back from a tough loss to a strong AC team to claim a win. Last Tuesday they dropped a 5-2 decision against the Cougars and hit back the next day with a 10-3 win over CAC rivals Greater Lawrence.
“Overcoming adversity is so important in high school athletics. So many things happen in the lives of these players and so much can happen after a loss,” said McCarthy. “I give this team a lot of credit. You work so hard at the practice every day. Whether we’re coming back from a loss or a win, the team is hungry to work hard today and prepare for tomorrow’s game.
“That happened after the tough loss to AC at the end of last week, they shook it off, came to training and prepared for Blackstone. You need a short memory in this game. You can play the next day and you have to be ready for it. The team have shown a lot of maturity over the year so I’m proud of them.”
Of course, no one likes to lose, but even if they lose, McCarthy feels his team can take something positive from their two losses to AC going into the state tournament.
“AC have been a solid team this year. Their lineup hits the ball really well. They will definitely be a dangerous team in the MIAA tournament,” McCarthy said. “They play in a very competitive league (CCL). You have to face Austin Prep, St. Mary’s, Bishop Fenwick and teams like that day after day. So you’re battle hardened. That’s a big reason we love playing them as a non-league game every year. Playing against good teams helps us prepare for the tournament season.”
Speaking of tournament time, the Rams are now awaiting the tournament pairings for the MIAA Division 4 State Tournament to see who they will face in the first round. The May 27 MIAA rankings ranked the Rams fifth in Division 4 with the top 32 teams qualifying, but regardless of placement, McCarthy and his players are excited for the state tournament to begin.
“The boys are looking forward to playing ball after the season!” said McCarthy. “Starting with State Voke this week and next week’s MIAA tournament, every game counts! They rise to the occasion and I’m excited to see how far they can take it.”