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River Rats trapped in MIBL final

Sam Palmer (pictured) squares up a ball and rips a single to center field on Friday night against Ashland. Photo by Mike Flanagan.

By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor

After dominating their way through quads, Medfield/DS continued its hot summer this past week in the MIBL tournament. The River Rats dismantled perennial power Braintree 13-0 (five innings) in the opening game of the Final Four on Tuesday at Adams Field in Quincy, moving Medfield into the winner's bracket.

The following night, Medfield dropped their first game of the postseason as the River Rats were unable to maintain a late 3-2 lead, falling 4-3 to Ashland.

On Thursday, Medfield took the trip back down to Adams Field to play an elimination game against Quincy, where the winner would play a double-header and square off against Ashland, who were just a single win away from claiming the MIBL title.

Medfield fell behind, 4-1, against Quincy, but rallied to a 4-4 lead, thanks to an RBI sacrifice fly by Jack Goodman, an RBI single by Sam Palmer as well as a series of errors on a grounder to second base by Sam Kornet. Quincy tied the game at six in the bottom of the sixth, but Palmer responded right back for Medfield, blasting an RBI double off of the left field fence to score Nick Sheehan and give the Rats back the lead at 7-6. Making his debut on the mound for Medfield this summer, Palmer came on and shut the door in the top of seventh. The River Rats held on, 7-6, to advance to their second elimination game of the day against Ashland.

In the night-cap, Ashland drew first blood in the bottom of the first inning, scoring a run off of a throwing error with a man on third base. Sam Palmer led off the top of the second with a single and later came around to score, thanks to an RBI single by Jack Goodman. Ben Leonard gave Medfield its first lead of the contest in the top of the third, stroking a single into right field to score Nick Sheehan and Dennis Folan, putting the Rats ahead, 3-1. Jack Goodman singled home Sam Palmer with one out in the inning to extend the lead to 4-1 after two-and-a-half innings. Ashland got a run back in the bottom of the fourth to make it a 4-2 game. A great play by catcher Mike Gilio and pitcher Matt Donahue on a passed ball in the bottom of the sixth nailed the runner at home, keeping the game 4-2. Thomas Shurtleff came on and shut the door in the bottom of the seventh for the save as Medfield prevailed 4-2, forcing a second and decisive game on Friday night.

Unfortunately, Medfield's run ended in heartbreak. Ashland jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, thanks to a two-RBI single by Nick Calabrese. Denis Folan scored on an error in the top of the fourth to make it a 2-1 game, but a late series of errors by the River Rats allowed Ashland to blow the game open. Ashland prevailed 7-1 to claim the inaugural MIBL championship.

For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram @flano0.

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