North Reading Wins Division 3 North Title, Advance to State Baseball Semi-Finals
Despite controversy, the Hornets ended up on top in what was a see-saw battle in Lowell.
Bases loaded. Final at-bat. A hit could tie or win, an out ends the game.
That's the dream of every little boy who picks up the bat and it was the scene at LeLacheur Park in Lowell on Saturday as the North Reading Hornets became 2012 Division 3 North Sectional baseball champions, defeating the Lynnfield Pioneers, 3-2.
Both teams had a difficult time getting on the scoreboard early thanks to key fielding on both sides and strong pitching from North Reading's Ryan McAuliffe and Lynnfield's Chris Dehueille.
Lynnfield got the first run in the fourth, but North Reading came back in the sixth thanks to Dennis Rollfs coming home off a Colby Maiola single.
The Pioneers quickly rebounded in the top of the seventh, but then controversy erupted when the game was delayed for nearly 15 minutes due to an improper jersey number worn by sophomore Shane Driscoll.
Driscoll would stay in the game, but the delay transformed into a rally that gave the Hornets back the lead, a lead that Lynnfield erased thanks to key hits in the bottom of the inning from B.J. Neil and Traverse Briana.
North Reading took the lead again in the top of the eighth, but it looked like another miracle was in the making half an inning later.
Pioneer senior Peter Franchi and Carmine DeCesare were hit by pitches in two consecutive at-bats and it appeared that fellow senior Craig Anderson might bring them home to end the game, although Anderson was ejected after a controversial third strike.
Another out and it all came down to shortstop B.J. Neil. Despite an at-bat that lasted for nearly five minutes, reliever Riley Warnock was able to strike out Neil and end the contest.
North Reading advances to the state semi-finals, where they will advance to meet the winner of tomorrow's Apponequet/East Bridgewater Division 3 South Sectional finals in Brockton.