Senators surprise Ware, 4-2
Mahar Regional School continued it’s improbable season Thursday.
With two freshmen and two sophomores among the starting 10 (including a designated hitter), and eight of the 10 players making their postseason debuts, the ninth-seeded Senators upset eighth-seeded Ware High School, 4-2, in WMass Division III baseball first-round action in Ware.
Mahar is one of the youngest teams in the tournament and one of the greenest in terms of postseason experience, as only Coty Iozo and Logan Barrett entered the game with any experience. Ironically, both players had a two-run single in the win, but the Senators were helped out by plenty of players who overcame any jitters from playing in their first postseason game.
“I think right when we went on the field the guys were a little tight,” Mahar coach Art Billings said. “You could see the nerves. But it’s fun to watch. They got comfortable as the game wore on and they are having a lot of fun. We all put the same amount of time into getting here and the hard work is paying off.
Sophomore Drew Patria led the Senators (12-9) with a strong performance on the bump. The starter struck out five in the complete-game effort, allowing five hits, and most importantly according to Mahar coach Art Billings, no walks.
“I told him the most important thing was to throw strikes today,” Billings said. “He was around the plate all game. He looked confident and comfortable. He wasn’t laboring and the boys gave good support behind him. We made two errors but our defense made a lot of good plays.”
The Mahar offense gave Patria some runs to work with in the third inning with a four-spot. The Senators opened the third with four straight singles as Ethan Nye and Zach Adams set the table with back-to-back singles and stolen bases. Logan Barrett plated both of them with a single up the middle, and Jake Paul made it four hits in a row with a single to center. After both runners stole a base to move into scoring position, senior Coty Iozzo delivered a two-run single up the middle for a 4-0 Mahar lead.
Ware (11-10) came back with a pair of runs in the fourth inning. Branden Monette hit an RBI single for the first run of the game and Doug Pulchtopek scored on a double play for the second run. Patria allowed only one additional baserunner over the final three innings (a seventh-inning Fernando Montalhan single) to shut the door on any Ware comeback chances.
Ryan Swarts suffered the loss, striking out two, while allowing 10 hits and one walk.
Mahar freshman Hunter Richardson finished with two hits, while Paul led the team with three.
Mahar will now try to slay the Division III giant when it travels to top-seeded Monson High School Monday afternoon at 4. The Mustangs, which play in the same Bi-County League as Ware, won the league title this season and enter with a 15-4 record.