BROCKTON, Mass. ---- Ryan McAuliffe fired a two-hitter with 10 strikeouts as top seed Northern Essex bested the Massasoit CC baseball team, 9-1, in Region XXI Tournament action at Colombo Field on Friday afternoon.
Massasoit (11-23) will take on No. 3 seed Bunker Hill, which lost 4-1 to No. 2 Holyoke CC, in the loser's bracket on Saturday at Edgar's Field. First pitch is scheduled for 11 a.m.
Northern Essex (26-2), ranked eighth nationally, put up three runs in the bottom of the first thanks to a pair of Warrior errors and a two-run single off the bat of Jacob Rayner.
"That's been our situation all year. We dig ourselves a hole and against good pitching, like that, it's really tough to climb out of it," head coach Tom Frizzell said. "The error at second, the error at third and the walk ended up scoring (in the first inning). You can't give a team in tournament play a three-run lead, especially because the pitching is so good. For us to spot (Northern Essex) three coming out of the shoot is difficult."
The three-run first would be all the run support McAuliffe would need on the mound for the Knights. The righty went all seven innings, allowing only two hits (both singles), while fanning 10 and not walking a batter. He struck out a batter in six of seven frames he worked, including punching out the side in the first. His record improved to a perfect 7-0 on the year as the Knights won their 21st consecutive game.
Northern Essex would tack on a single run in the fourth, two more in the sixth and three in the seventh as the game ended in the bottom of the seventh due to the eight-run tournament mercy rule.
Massasoit's lone run came in the fifth thanks to some aggressive base running by Mike Scibilio (Bourne). The freshman slapped a two-out single to center and eventually came around on a double-error committed by the NECC infield.
Scibilio and Dave Murphy (Plymouth) each recorded hits in the loss for Massasoit.
"We are 34 games into the season and we have struggled to hit and we struggled to hit today," Frizzell said. "Hopefully we see (Bunker Hill's) two or three (pitcher) and we do a little bit better."
Tom Protentis of Lakeville, was the tough-luck loser for the Warriors. The righty went the first six innings, scattering six hits and allowed four runs, only two of which were earned. The sophomore walked three and struck out two as his record dropped to 4-2 on the season.
NECC finished with 10 hits, two each from MacDaniel Singleton, Rayner and Colby Maiola. Rayner and Keith Linnane each knocked in two for the Knights.
NECC will take on Holyoke CC on Saturday at Colombo Field in the winner's bracket, with game time slated for 11 a.m.