Nick Cardoni with Nick Bates in the background
Text and photos by Steev Riccardo
Chicopee – The Oxford Pirates state championship run ended Tuesday (June 12) with a tough 3-0 semi-final loss to a scrappy Mt. Everett Eagles team at a rainy Szot Park field in Chicopee.
The Pirates could not overcome a shaky three-run first inning in which the Eagles manufactured three runs with two outs with only one hit.
The typically solid Pirates’ defense committed three costly errors in the first inning and were not able to overcome those mishaps and get back in the game.
Third Baseman Cody Stone
Despite hitting a season-high four batters, junior right-hander Nick Cardoni pitched well enough to win, allowing only three Eagles hits and striking out eight batters, but didn’t get the run support he needed as the Pirates could only muster three hits.
“We picked the absolute worst time to have the worst inning that we have had all year, “said Pirates Head Coach Justin Richards. “We tend to not make errors, let all alone three errors in the same inning. It happened with two outs with nobody on, a walk, a hit, a couple errors.”
“It’s playoff baseball, every run is critical as you saw in our district final game (against Hopedale), one run won that game, one run would have won today. In this game everything is magnified, every pitch is magnified, every at-bat is magnified, and that is exactly what happened today.”
The Pirates had at least one base runner in five of the seven innings but couldn’t get a runner home. It didn’t help that the Eagles made some key defensive plays and their pitcher lefty Erik Derwitsch didn’t make many mistakes on the mound.
“Their pitcher mixed up his pitches pretty good. At times we had guys in scoring position and he got us out when he had to. Congratulations to them, they outplayed us and they deserve to play for the state title.”
“Unfortunately the top of the first inning bit us in the butt today and that was the difference in the game, they have nothing to be ashamed about at all, they had a great season,” said Richards about his players.
The coach was also pleased at the way Cardoni pitched despite the shaky first inning and the hit batters. “After the first inning, he bore down really well for the rest of the game and pitched really well. He pitched his heart out and it’s unfortunate that we couldn’t score any runs for him.”
“We do have a lot to be happy about; we won our first District title in about 12 years. We lost a lot of guys from last year’s team and we weren’t really sure what to expect coming in. We knew we only had one pitcher, we had three other guys that stepped up, we started a freshmen catcher, a couple sophomores; we are a nice even mix of players. It is very difficult to come together as a team, especially in baseball with a four year age difference, but we did.”
“Obviously this is disappointing right now. it’s going to be a rough bus ride home for these guys. They did everything that we asked of them all year, they worked really hard, and at practice we have a good time.”
“The future looks bright, we have a pretty good program here, we are happy with the direction that we are going in. We have gotten better and better each of the four years that I have been here.”
The Pirates have nothing to be ashamed of. At 18-6, they were the crème of the crop in Division 3 and one of the most feared teams in the Southern Worcester County League and with a young team have plenty to build on for the future.
“I think we are in a position now where we are going to reload every year without having to rebuild,” said Richards. “I would expect us to be competing again next year for a district title without even looking at our team. We have a lot of guys coming by.”
The Pirates last won a state title in1986 and lost in the state finals in 2001.
Some of The Pirates fans who made the trip to Chicopee