By Dan Harrison
---- — BROCKTON — Equal parts heartbreaker and headscratcher, Masco’s 2-1 loss to Hingham in the Division 2 baseball semifinals last night came down to mixed signals and missed opportunities by the Chieftains.
Masco (19-6) twice failed to get the suicide squeeze down and both times had runners thrown out while the Chieftains failed to get the timely hit with runners in scoring position. Greg Jain was gunned down at home in the top of the first inning on a failed squeeze and then Joe Klingensmith was caught in a rundown on the third baseline.
“We were thinking squeeze and I didn’t communicate it well enough,” said Masco head coach TJ Baril. “We went with more verbal signs than the physical signs we normally use because of the bigger crowd, there were more eyes on us, and I didn’t do a good job communicating that. It’s my fault.”
The miscues on offense and a few whacky plays on the defensive side ultimately sealed the Chieftains fate at Campanelli Stadium. The defeat squandering what was a superb pitching performance from senior righthander Speros Varinos., who went six innings allowing just three hits and two walks while striking out 11.
The Harbormen (20-6) made the most of their opportunities. Back-to-back catcher interference calls put two men on for Hingham in the bottom of the second and after an infield single, Varinos walked Stephan White with the bases loaded scoring David Hutchins, who was put on with the first catcher’s interference call.
Masco surrendered the game-winner in the bottom of the sixth after Evan Flanagan lined a single to right field and then took second base when Varinos was called for a balk. Flanagan would score on a two-out single by John Carlson.
“I can’t rightfully explain what happened,” said Hingham coach Frank Niles. “The kid (Varinos) pitched like Tom Seaver and somehow it happened. It doesn’t feel like we found a way (to win), it feels like it just fell on us. There were some wild plays.”
Hingham starter William Boynton threw mostly off-speed stuff and the Masco hitters appeared to be on him early as the Chieftains had men on second and third in both the first two innings but couldn’t capitalize.
Masco was just a bit too aggressive on the basepaths as what had become a staple of the team’s success ultimately led to its demise.
“Usually that’s what we do — try to get runners moving and get bunts over — we got a little overzealous (at times),” said Baril, who stated multiple times the blame for the miscue was all his. “Those are things you can point to me making mistakes. These guys played well enough to win and deserved a better fate.”
Junior clean-up hitter Joe Klingensmith did his best to keep the Chieftains in it. Trailing by a run in the top of the fourth inning, Klingensmith, who had been struggling against Boynton’s off speed pitches, turned on a curveball, launching a home run deep over the left field fence.
“I would have thrown me that curve too,” said Klingensmith, Masco’s number two starter throughout the postseason. “I wasn’t anywhere near it in my first at-bat. I wasn’t sitting on it, but I was ready for it and just kept my hands back a little bit.”
Klingensmith and the rest of his teammates were clearly disappointed with the loss however, this year’s Masco’s team was as close a group as the junior first baseman has been a part of.
“It’s always sad to lose but only one team gets to go out with a win,” said Klingensmith. “This is a special team. It’s the closest-knit group I’ve ever been a part of.”