Div. 5 baseball: Pioneer rally falls just short in semifinal loss to top-seeded Georgetown

Pioneer’s Alex McClelland puts a tag down on Frontier’s Rosco Palmer earlier this season.

Pioneer’s Alex McClelland puts a tag down on Frontier’s Rosco Palmer earlier this season. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Combined sources

Published: 06-11-2024 10:00 PM

WORCESTER — A valiant comeback effort from the Pioneer baseball team fell just short in the MIAA Division 5 semifinals. 

Taking on top-seeded Georgetown Tuesday night, the fourth-seeded Panthers found themselves trailing 5-0 after a big third inning from the Royals. 

Pioneer chipped away, cutting the deficit to 7-4 going into the seventh. The Panthers loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh and pushed one run across but that was all Georgetown allowed, with the Royals advancing to the title game via a 7-5 victory at Fitton Field on the campus of Holy Cross.

Georgetown will play No. 3 Boston English on Friday at 4 p.m. at Polar Park in Worcester.

“Georgetown is a great team, and when you face a No. 1 seed, that’s what you’re gonna get,” Pioneer head coach Kevin Luippold said. “Our guys fought until the last pitch and that’s all I can ask.”

The visiting half of the seventh wasn’t the only time Pioneer stranded runners in scoring position, as it had runners on second and third in each of the first two frames – failing to plate them both times.

The Panthers left 12 runners on base throughout Tuesday’s semifinal.

“I know it sounds cliche, but the whole goal is to get on the board first,” Luippold said. “We had those opportunities. We left on four in the first two innings and seven through the first four, and didn’t come away with any of them. That doesn’t help, but we gave ourselves the opportunities. These guys should be proud. They played a hell of a game and had a hell of a season.”

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It was a five-run third inning that propelled the Royals to victory. Georgetown had its bats going early and often, knocking 10 hits in the opening three innings. The Royal bats did damage in the third, cracking seven hits in the frame to take a 5-0 lead. 

Hayden Ruth, Ty Gilmore, Ethan Lee, Jake Gilstein and Oliver Thibeault had the RBIs for Georgetown in the fifth.

“On the mound, our pitching has been keeping us in it, but we hadn’t seen a team like Georgetown yet,” Luippold said. “Some weird plays didn’t help us, some things didn’t go our way and the ball just rolled in their direction a couple of times.”

Jackson Campbell knocked Pi oneer’s first hit of the game in the fourth, do ubling to center. Braeden Tsipenyuk singled to drive in the Panthers’ opening run of the game before Alex McClelland walked with the bases loaded, cutting the lead to 5-2.

Ethan Quinn relieved freshman Jackson Glazier in the bottom half of the inning after playing only 18 total innings all season due to injury. Quinn pitched three innings, striking out five while surrendering two hits.

Luippold was thrilled to have his junior star back on the diamond for the state semifinals.

“Quinn hasn’t been on the field for more than 18 innings all year, but he’s still been a leader in the dugout the whole time,” Luippold said. “Having him in the lineup was a big morale boost for guys.”

Georgetown added to its lead in the fifth, with Ruth hitting a sacrifice fly before Jake Gilstein singled in a run to give the Royals a 7-2 lead. 

McClelland tallied a base hit in the sixth and Ethan Quinn drove him in with a base hit. Cyhowski grounded to second and the ball was bobbled by the first baseman, allowing McClelland to score and cut the lead to 7-4.

Pioneer loaded the bases after an Ethan Mauthe walk, an error after Jackson Campbell put the ball in play and an infield single from Ben Werner. With no outs Tsipenyuk hit a sacrifice fly to score Ethan Mauthe, but Georgetown recorded two straight outs from there to get out of the jam.

Despite facing the five-run hole, the Panthers never backed down to the top seed in Division 5.

“A big storyline for our team this year has been grit,” Luippold said. “We played a tougher schedule this year, we’ve been down, and the guys know if they don’t give it their all and slap their bat on the ball and have fun most importantly, then they’ll stay down… When it’s not going our way, you just gotta have fun and that’s what these guys do best.”

Pioneer finished its season 19-6 overall as Western Mass. Class D finalists and Division 5 state semifinalists.