With Willie Nastasi on the mound, the Red Raiders perhaps thought little of their opponent the Taunton Tigers in Sunday afternoon's MIAA Division 1 South Sectional Semifinal.
Perhaps too little.
The feisty, spirited and lively Taunton squad (18-5) took advantage of a 1-0 lead and rode it all the way to victory yesterday afternoon at Campanelli Stadium in Brockton, tacking two more runs on in the bottom of the eighth inning for a 3-0 finale. Taunton faces Xaverian today at 4:00 pm at Braintree High School in the MIAA Division 1 South Sectional Championship.
Nastasi certainly pitched well enough to win his final high school baseball game, but the oft-silent Red Raider bats and perhaps a handful of squandered opportunities to produce runs kept a less-spirited Barnstable nine from staging a rally of any sort.
Deadlocked in a 0-0 tie, Nastasi allowed no hits until the bottom of the fourth inning when he led things off by slightly grazing the visor of Taunton catcher Joey Walsh's helmet to a put a man on first. Matt McLean than launched a first pitch Nastasi fastball to the wall in left-center field to drive in the only run the Tigers would need.
Nastasi went seven innings before giving up a triple to Zach Grady on a 3-2 count to lead off the bottom of the 8th. Interestingly, Barnstable had no one warming up in the bullpen and following Grady's triple Nastasi was pulled for Keegan Dellacona who came right in from the bench.
Dellacona gave up an infield single when first baseman Dan Walsh fielded a Travis Ritchie grounder cleanly but no one covered the first base bag, got the next batter to pop up to first base then a couple of more hits led to a 3-0 Taunton lead.
Barnstable went down in the first inning, 1-2-3, then attempted a rally in the top of the second when Dan Walsh laced a single to center. Bets were on that Mark Brodd was going to sacrifice Walsh to second but Brodd had the green light and popped up to left. Everett Walsh then roped a basehit to left-centerfield to put men on first and second, but Sam Holway grounded to short and reached on a fielder's choice to put runners on the corners. He stole second base, and then Derek Estes walked but Denny Beynor grounded out to short to end the hope of drawing first blood.
Barnstable's hits came from Everett Walsh (2-4), Dan Walsh (1-3), Dylan Morris (1-3), Ty Adams (1-4), Sam Holway (1-4) and Luke Besse (1-4) who hit a double but was stranded in the 8th inning.
The Red Raiders finish the season at 16-5.