In the quarterfinal round of the Division 4 North State Tournament, the third-seeded Manchester Essex baseball team came out swinging against No. 6 Lowell Catholic at Memorial Field in Essex.
The Hornets broke out to a three-run lead in the first two innings and let their pitching handle the rest as they held on for a 4-2 win.
With the win, Manchester Essex (16-5) advances to the Division 4 North Semifinals later this week against No. 2 Snowden (17-4). Date, time and location TBA.
"My gues show up to practice every single day and they've had one unified goal from the beginning," Manchester Essex head coach B.J. Weed said. "Getting the first one down is the toughest and those guys are well coached and play hard. So a team effort was the critical component in our win."
The Hornets got it going right off the jump with a walk, a double from Harry Painter and a RBI double from Dylan Wilson to make it 1-0. Mike Quill then singled in both Painter and Wilson to give Manchester Essex a commanding, 3-0 lead after one.
Lowell Catholic got one back in the third on a Kyle DeRoma RBI single, but the Hornets answered right back in the bottom of the frame on another RBI hit from Quill, this time a double to make it 4-1
The Crusaders again cut into that lead in the fourth when shortstop David Gill smacked a double down the left field line and was driven in two batters later on a groundout from Matt Larson, cutting the Manchester Essex advantage to 4-2.
A call to the bullpen brought out freshman Kellen Heney to relieve Wilson, who allowed two runs in four innings of work. Heney staved off any future runs and allowed three hits over two innings of work.
“I don’t think on the mound. I just pitch how I’ve been practicing day in and day out,” Heney said.
The freshman also drew praise from his head coach.
"My MVP today was Kellen Heney," Weed said. "A freshman who came in for two innings without letting up a run deserves recognition."
The Hornet's sensational pitching continued when senior Harry Painter came out of the bullpen to close, and he retired the side in four batters to clinch the Manchester Essex win.
“They’re a good baseball team," Lowell Catholic head coach Matt Stone said of the Hornets. "They made all their routines, they pressured our defense, and when we pressured them, they made more plays. I tip my cap to Manchester Essex."