By John Anderson
When Conor Scully faced off against the Rams’ Liam Cunningham on May 2nd, it didn’t go well for the Rockets and they lost 3-0. Northbridge came out strong on that day and scored three times in the first inning. To make matters worse, the Rams won 8-0 in the second game of a doubleheader.
During the opening inning of the MIAA Central Division 2 Championship game on Saturday at Holy Cross, some in the stands probably feared déjà vu as Scully walked a batter and a fielding error put runners on base. While one run was scored, Auburn nixed the Rams’ offense and Scully settled into some serious pitching.
Scully allowed only 3 hits in 7 innings while striking out 9. Whatever happened in Northbridge in May was now long forgotten. Coach Eric Swedberg calls him “a complete pitcher.”
When it was Auburn’s turn at the plate, Pat Fitzgerald smacked a deep ball and slid into third before Northbridge could make a play. He then scored on a sacrifice fly by Conor Scully. Ryan Mulcahy was up next, and he smashed the ball over the fence for a homerun. Swedberg said this wasn’t a typical high school hit, much more like college ball. Mulcahy had 5 RBI’s during this outing.
Auburn’s lead would hold for the balance of the game, but the Rocket bats weren’t quiet for long. In the second, some sloppy Northbridge fielding allowed runners on, and two more would score before Mulcahy came to the plate again. He hit a line drive single to center field and garnered 2 more RBI’s.
Despite being up 6-1, the Rockets didn’t slow down their offense one bit. They scored 3 in the fourth and 1 in the fifth to yield a 10-1 lead. Swedberg assessed, “The team had control and still executed.” That impressed the coach.
The Rocket defense was nearly perfect in halting the Rams. As an example, centerfielder Pat Fitzgerald made back to back running catches to close out the sixth inning for Northbridge. Coach Swedberg called his performance “Major League catches.”
The Rams eked out one more run in the top of the seventh, but with one out on the board, it was too little, too late. Swedberg was really impressed to get out of the first inning with only one run against the Rockets. His team has been to the Central Mass Championship 6 times in 11 seasons.
Auburn will face Mount Greylock Regional at 4:00pm on Tuesday at Westfield State University.