Baseball: Concord withstands Bishop Guertin’s late rally, advances to quarterfinals on Saturday


Monitor staff

Published: 06-02-2023 9:49 AM

When Concord baseball last faced Bishop Guertin (11-10) on May 15 it was a laugher – an 18-1 win for the Crimson Tide on the road.

Thursday’s first round playoff matchup between the seven seed and 10 seed was unsurprisingly much closer, though Concord emerged victorious once again, holding off a late Cardinals rally for an 8-5 win. The Tide (15-5) advance to face No. 2 Exeter (16-3) on the road on Saturday.

Here are three notes from Concord’s victory:

Tide offensive turns in smart, disciplined game

While the Tide played six games during the regular season where it scored more runs than it did on Thursday, head coach Scott Owen argued it was one of their best offensive performances of the season. To see that, look beyond the runs and hits to his players’ approaches at the plate.

“A lot of up-the-middle, opposite-field hits,” Owen said. “Just staying on the ball and not trying to do too much.”

In the bottom of the third inning trailing 1-0, Brooks Craigue led off with a single and advanced to second on an error; then Dawson Fancher drove him home with an RBI single to left. Later in the inning after Armen Laylagian walked, Dan Revellese singled to right to give the Tide a 2-1 lead.

Similarly in the fourth, Concord continued manufacturing runs. Nater Wachter drove in Kalan Gaudreault with a sac fly and Mitch Coffey and Laylagian strung together back-to-back singles to expand the lead to 5-1. A similar sequence repeated in the bottom of the sixth when Laylagian, Revellese and Zanis Lauris had three-straight opposite-field RBI singles.

Even though it took the Tide a few innings to find some runs, that proper approach was there from the first inning.

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“We hit three balls hard in that (first) inning and walked away with no runs. It’s not always about scoring runs and getting base hits,” Owen said. “I thought we had good at bats in that inning. That translated throughout the whole game.”

Craigue turns in strong outing on the mound

It wasn’t the senior right-hander’s sharpest outing of the season, but it was sufficient for Concord to come away with the win. Over 6.1 innings, he allowed five runs on 10 hits with two walks and six strikeouts.

After allowing a run on a sac fly to BG’s Isaac Crivac in the third, Craigue posted zeros in the fourth and fifth innings, before allowing a run on a wild pitch in the sixth and three more in the seventh.

The Tide carried an 8-2 lead to the final inning, only to see the Cardinals bring the tying run to the plate, which forced Owen to call on Zach McCoy to close out the game. When Owen strolled to the mound to make the change, Craigue thought he had enough left in the tank to finish.

“He competes. He’s a battler. He got a little tired. He wanted to stay in,” Owen said. “But you get to a certain point where we got other guys. That was my message to him: ‘We’re gonna need someone other than you and Matt Drewes to win this thing.’”

The pitching depth is something Craigue knows his coach will need to lean on if Concord is to make a deep run in the tournament.

“We’ve got a 1A, 1B with me and Matt Drewes,” Craigue said. “Those boys in the bullpen: Zach McCoy, Noah Chraboloeski was down there. There’s a couple other guys. We know if they come in in relief, they can get the job done as well.”

On Thursday, it was McCoy who, after allowing an RBI double to Adam Wetherbee, a walk and a single, struck out Owen Richmond to end the game.

Survive and advance the motto

Owen’s coached long enough to know that while he’d love to see his team play perfect baseball in postseason games, the reality is that winning is all that matters. Thursday was the latest example. It wasn’t Concord’s best-pitched game of the year by any stretch, but his team found a way to come out with a win.

“We get to keep playing,” he said of his message to the team after the game. “We get to practice tomorrow, get to play on Saturday. We’re in it just as much as anybody else. If we come out and play good baseball, we can beat anybody.”

The Tide’s next opponent will be Exeter on Saturday, a team Concord did not face in the regular season.

“They’re a tough team, but we’re not backing down from anybody,” Craigue said. “We’re going to give it everything we got on Saturday.”