The game ended as it began – with Chris Shaw, MVP of his league, waiting outside the home dugout.
It was the bottom of the 9th, with one on, one out, the Minutemen trailing by three runs and Shaw in the hole. If he made it to the plate, Lexington’s senior slugger would have a chance to tie the game at 10s or put his team in the lead.
But a lineout and a strikeout later, and the Minutemen’s do-or-die rally died with Shaw in the on-deck circle.
And with that, Lexington High's baseball season was over. The Minutemen fell, 10-7, to the visiting Newton North Tigers during their MIAA North Division 1 preliminary round playoff game Thursday, May 31 in Lexington.
Not a whole lot about this game went smoothly. It was a slow-developing, back-and-forth battle.
First pitch between the No. 11-seeded Minutemen and No. 22 Tigers was supposed to be at 2 p.m., but got pushed back an hour due to an umpire scheduling error.
When the teams finally took the field, the action was slow to develop and the first few innings were a smattering of strikeouts, runners caught stealing, batters hit by pitches and a tremendous catch in centerfield that led to a run-saving double play in the bottom of the 1st.
Lexington drew first blood in the bottom of the 3rd, when senior first-baseman Billy Borden worked a bases-loaded walk off Tigers’ pitcher Tommy Clarke, scoring Shaw who had himself drawn a walk and advanced to third after a single and fielders’ choice.
After scoreless 4th and 5th innings, the Tigers pounced on the pitching of Shaw and built a 6-1 advantage over the next two innings.
Sophomore catcher Alex Joyce was the catalyst in a three-run 6th, belting a two-run double and scoring his team’s third run after his slide into home dislodged an attempted tag by Lexington catcher Tomo Ebihara. The Tigers tacked on three more in the top of the 7th on a single, double and a misplayed ball in right.
Lexington bounced back in the home half of the 7th, using a hit-batter, some daring base-running, a pair of RBI-singles and another misplayed ball in right field to pull cut the lead to 6-5.
Borden and Shaw were again involved in the action, as Shaw was hit by a pitch and scored a run, and Borden laced a two-run single, took second on a passed ball and later scored on a single by freshman Brendan Shaw.
The elder Shaw was chased from the game in the top of the 8th and the Tigers clawed their way to a 10-5 lead.
Newton North had pushed a run across the plate and loaded the bases by the time junior Jason Park relieved Shaw with one down. Joyce, the Tigers’ catcher, promptly greeted park with a two-run single and later scored on a single by junior Brendan Ryan, who relieved Clarke in the 6th inning.
The bottom of the inning began with promise for the home team, with the Tigers botching a possible double-play ball and putting two men on with no outs and the top of Lexington’s order due up. But Shaw flew out to center, as did senior Nick Murray, and Mike Loughlin, also a senior, grounded out to the pitcher to end the inning.
Junior Dan Spero came on for Lexington and worked a scoreless 9th, setting the stage for the Minutemen to muster one last rally.
Borden led off the home half of the 9th with a standup double to right, and senior Jazon Tzannes drew a walk. With one out, Spero rapped a two-run single to center, but 10-7 was as close as it would get as Tigers freshman Ben Porter slammed the door on the Minuteman rally and left the potential tying run in the on-deck circle.