SHIRLEY -- Billerica AL 10 took a 2-1 lead in the top of the third, but they could not hold on. Johnny Pinard's first career home run helped spark a six-run, third inning for Ayer-Shirley, as they snuck past Billerica, 8-6, Saturday at Dale Prentiss Field.
Ayer-Shirley with the win, advanced to the round of eight Wednesday against Concord Maroon. The result of that game was unavailable at time of publication. All season long, according to Billerica manager Mike Maguire, the Indians have fallen victim to serving up the big inning.
"It's been our nemesis all year," said Maguire. "We have that one bad inning. I was just telling the kids, instead of giving up five or six, try to limit it to three or two. It's hard on the kids because it seems to be a continuous cycle."
Billerica leadoff man Joseph Haggerty laid down a perfectly placed bunt single down the third base-line. Haggerty was caught stealing on a textbook throw to second by Ayer-Shirley catcher Jake Pedreschi.
On the next play, Cam Sjostedt doubled into deep right field. The back-to-back hits by the Indians proved to be worthless, as Pinard struck out D.J. Sidell on a change-up in the dirt for the final out of the inning.
Sjostedt started the afternoon on the hill for Billerica, and enjoyed a one-two-three first inning, due in large part to the play of his shortstop, Cam Russo, and second baseman Connor Maguire.
Ayer-Shirley broke the scoreless tie, despite not registering a hit, in the second inning. On a risky, yet rewarding play, Heat right fielder Deklan Heinz squared and pulled back his bunt attempt, while Sean Dutton baited a throw-down and was caught stealing at second, as Pedreschi swiped home with the game's first run.
The Billerica bats were silent in the second due to the stellar play of Heinz in right. Joey Dufour narrowly reached on a single, but Heinz came up with the ball clean and gunned him down at first for the final out of the second.
Dougie Russo gave Billerica its first run of the afternoon on a screaming RBI double to dead center field, which plated Jared Plum from second. Billerica plated another run on a wild pitch, as Brendan Torpey trotted in from third to put Billerica up by one.
Ayer-Shirley blew the game wide-open as the lefty, Pinard, launched a missile over the 165-foot fence in right field to extend the Heat's lead to 3-2.
Dutton kept the merry-go-round spinning with a double into dead center field, which brought home Jaxson Carroll.
Next, Ryan Horgan laced a 2 RBI double into the gap in right center, scoring both Dutton and Pedreschi. Chris Chow followed up Horgan's double with one of his own down the third base line, which knocked in Horgan from second.
Billerica started to dig into the Ayer-Shirley lead in the fourth, when Dufour creeped in from third on a passed ball to cut the Heat's lead to 7-4.
The Heat salvaged a run in the bottom half of the inning when Pedreschi knocked in Dylan Vigue who doubled earlier in the inning with a single through the right-side.
The Indians received some well-deserved luck in the fifth inning as an overthrow resulted in a pair of Billerica runs, scored by Haggerty and Sjostedt, which made it 8-6 Ayer-Shirley.
Ayer-Shirley manager Don Consalvo turned the ball over to his closer, Muse MacLaughlin, midway through the sixth, and he didn't disappoint. The tall, lanky righty came in to face the third and fourth batters of the inning and got the job done." Overall, the kids have been unbelievable this season," said Consalvo. "This was a must-win for us. I think now we qualify for the final eight. Our goal was to be competitive and try to get into a trophy weekend.
"We have gotten further than our goal this year," Consalvo said. Follow Ed on Twitter/@EdNiser, Tout/@eniser, and like Nashoba Publishing Sports onFacebook.