By John Orrell, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Shrewsbury High’s Lee Diamantopoulos is arguably one of the most successful and respected head coaches in area high school baseball and has the credentials to prove it. But even he has to be pondering the possibility that higher forces are playing a role in his team’s quest for a District 1 championship.
Diamantopoulos’s top-seed Colonials squared off for the second time in as many years June 12 in the Central Mass. championship game held at Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field in Worcester, seeking to block St. Peter-Marian (SPM) High School from executing a repeat performance.
It was not to be once more as third-seed SPM halted Shrewsbury in its tracks, taking home the title with a 3-1 victory. At the same time, Colonial players, coaches and team supporters have to be asking questions, specifically why inclement weather forced postponement of Saturday’s scheduled contest that was rescheduled for 24 hours later.
The one-day delay allowed SPM standout right-handed pitcher Pat Gallagher, who had gone the distance in Wednesday’s semifinal matchup, just enough time to recoup from that outing and spin a two-hitter to lead his team to victory. Had the game been played one day prior as scheduled, it was doubtful that Gallagher would have ever taken the hill.
“We faced him (Gallagher) last year,” said Diamantopoulos, whose team finished at 17-6. “We knew that he was tough and was a good pitcher. I thought we had some good swings at the ball right at people at times but in the end he made enough pitches when he had to.
“The kids were definitely fired up to be back here. We knew what it was like having been here once already. It was extra motivation to come in and get this win. We just didn’t get it done.”
Shrewsbury would score their only run on the night when Gallagher ran into some unusual control problems in the second inning, dealing out consecutive walks to Mike Filiere, Korey Patwari and Drew Campanale. Second baseman Chris Wright then proceeded to deliver Filiere with a sacrifice fly.
Junior right-hander Kevin Hummer was strong, going the distance for Shrewsbury allowing seven hits and three unearned runs.
“We scouted him (Hummer),” said SPM head coach Ed Riley. “We knew he threw strikes and had a good breaking ball. The kid did a great job for a junior. We’ve got a pretty good lineup and for him to do what he did against our lineup says a lot about what type of pitcher he is. You’ll definitely be hearing about him next year, too.”
The Guardians evened the score at one-apiece in the third inning but took the lead for keeps in the fifth, sending six men to the plate and scoring a pair.
“The loss stings right now but I’m sure when we get removed from this a little bit and look back at the body of work for this season we’ll see it was a successful one,” explained Diamantopoulos. “I couldn’t be more proud of these kids. They worked hard from the first at-bat to the last out. Unfortunately, we just didn’t make enough plays today.
“Something like this is where you have to realize that you win together, you lose together and pick each other up. No matter what happened at the end of this game we still have a bond that will last forever.”
“Shrewsbury had an unbelievable year. Lee’s done an incredible job with those guys,” said Riley of his Colonial opposition. “He had them ready to play today. One or two plays that went differently, he could be holding the trophy. They’re a very formidable opponent. They’re good every year. They produce a ton of good teams.”
Members of the 2016 Central Mass Division 1 finalists are seniors Casey Boudreau, Adam Twitchell, Luke Gorham, Ryan Svendsen, James He and Dan McManus; juniors Nick Martin, Kevin Hummer, Ryan Bunton, Dillon Zona, Nick DiGirolamo, Lee Grayson and Mike Filiere; sophomores Anthony Quinlivan, Liam Quinlivan, Tim Rioux and Korey Patwari; and freshmen Drew Campanale and Chris Wright.