Crusaders Rally for Extra-innings Win

June 8, 2018

Lowell Catholic left fielder Nate Sayer, left, and center fielder Mikas Kulbis-Marino, collided going after this fly ball in the top of the second inning during Thursday's state tournament win over Winthrop, but Sayer hung onto the ball for the out to end the inning. SUN/Julia Malakie Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

LOWELL -- Lowell Catholic possesses the big game experience needed to find ways to win even when all seems lost.

MIAA baseball

The Crusaders were one out away from elimination. But Lowell Catholic made like Houdini with its season on the line and found a way to escape with a thrilling victory.

Mikas Kulbis-Marino smacked a walk-off RBI-single in the bottom of the ninth inning, and reliever Alex Graves, earned the win on the mound, as Lowell Catholic rallied past Winthrop, 3-2, Thursday in a Division 4 North first round baseball game at Hadley Field.

Lowell Catholic trailed 2-1 heading to the bottom of the seventh. Winthrop pitcher Dan Gillis got two quick outs in the seventh. But Zach Gitschier, who started on the mound for the Crusaders and pitched eight strong innings, got a two-out single and scored the tying run on Kyle DeRoma’s double to left field.

“That was a great high school baseball game,” said Lowell Catholic head coach Matt Stone. “These guys have been scrappy all year. They just find a way.”

No. 1 seeded Lowell Catholic, which has won Division 4 North four times in the past five years and a state title in 2013, improved its record to 17-4. The Crusaders will host ninth-seeded Georgetown (13-8) in a quarterfinal Monday at Hadley Field at 4 p.m.

Sixteenth-seeded Winthrop, which plays in the Northeastern Conference, a strong baseball league that includes several Division 1 and 2 schools, ends with a 4-16 record.

In the ninth, Andrius Kulbis-Marino singled, moved up to second on Gitschier’s sacrifice bunt and scored the winning run on Mikas Kulbis-Marino’s base hit.

“Baseball is about taking advantage of the opportunities you get and that’s what we did,” said Gitschier, a senior right-hander who will pitch at Clark University next year. “We were able to come together as a team and pull this game out.

“We have that winning mentality. That’s what carried us today.”

In the bottom of the seventh, Lowell Catholic was down to its final out when Gitschier singled, advanced on an error on a grounder and scored the tying run on DeRoma’s double.

Graves pitched out of a two-on, no-out jam in the top of the ninth, setting the stage for the heroics in the bottom half of the frame.

Winthrop took a 2-0 lead in the third. The Crusaders scored a run in the fifth as Peter Sawyer singled, advanced to second on Graves’ bunt single and scored on Gitschier’s infield single.

Mikas Kulbis-Marino notched 2 hits, and David Gill and Ryan Duffy had 1 hit each.

Gitschier only allowed 5 hits while notching 8 strikeouts in 8-plus innings.

“Everything was based on Zach’s performance,” said Stone. “He was awesome. That was his senior moment. He’s a gamer. He just didn’t want to lose.”

And the Crusaders followed his lead.

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