Published in the August 3, 2017 edition.
NORTH READING — In a Sunday afternoon slugfest for the Massachusetts Little League state title, it was Holden that finally reeled in the biggest catch.
They defeated Gloucester, 13-9, at North Reading’s Benevento Park to win their first state crown, after being stopped in the title game in both 2014 and 2015. Holden will now represent Massachusetts in the New England Regional in Bristol, Connecticut, with that winner advancing to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, for the Little League World Series.
Holden never trailed in the game, but the outcome remained in doubt until the end against a Gloucester team that had rallied to victory twice during the tournament. Holden started fast with its first three batters of the day reaching base via walk, and Eli Robbins followed with two-run single and Joe Cappabianco brought home two more runs with a double to make it 4-0.
But Gloucester answered in the bottom of the frame, getting back-to-back solo home runs from Emerson Marshall and Jared Lucido to cut the deficit to 4-2. For Lucido, whose blast cleared the bleachers and several cars parked in right field, it was his fifth home run in four games.
Holden got those two runs back – and much more – in the second inning. Sean Verrier and Cappabianco slugged two-run homers and Steven Hebert followed with a solo shot that made the score 9-2.
The hits kept coming in the bottom of the second, with Lucido again in the middle of it all – he drilled a two-run single to left as part of a rally that pulled Gloucester within 9-6. The third inning saw Holden’s Dennis Jardine line an RBI single and Gloucester put together a nifty two-out rally that produced three run that drew them within a run, 10-9, but the game settled down from there.
Gloucester would get just one more hit in the game, while Holden managed to plate a single run in the fifth before tacking on two big insurance runs in the sixth when Eli Robbins launched a two-run homer over the right field fence. Robbins finished the day with three hits and three RBI, and Jardine also had three hits for the victors.
Steven Harrison earned the win for Holden. He took over mound duties in the fourth and tossed 2.1 near-perfect innings, allowing no hits, striking out three, and walking just one. Gloucester did put two runners on base in the sixth, but reliever Tucker MacDonald finished up the game by striking out the final two batters, leaving the potential game-tying run on deck.
Lucido and Zach Morris each had a pair of hits for Gloucester.
A crowd estimated at more than 1100, thought to be the biggest ever to watch a single game at Benevento Park since its opening in the 1950s, was on hand.
2017 Massachusetts Little League State Championships
July 27-30 at Benevento Park (North Reading, MA)
Thursday, July 27
Holden 3, Milton National 1
Gloucester 10, Melrose 5 (7 inn.)
Friday, July 28
Milton National 11, Melrose 1 (4 inn.)
Gloucester 7, Holden 5
Saturday, July 29
Holden 12, Melrose 2 (4 inn.)
Gloucester 11, Milton National 10
Final Pool Play Standings
Milton National 1-2
Sunday, July 30 — Championship Game
Holden 13, Gloucester 9