Swampscott’s determination was on full display in a razor thin win over Arlington Catholic in the North semifinals at Fraser Field in Lynn. They trailed 4-2 going into the bottom of the seventh, but the Big Blue weren’t going to go down quietly.
“I remember it vividly. We thought we were going to win and I think the other team could sense that. They knew we weren’t defeated and we were going to fight to the last out,” said Hayes.
It was a balk — called out by Parker, and the correct call — that kept the inning alive. Rogers then singled home DeSimone as the Big Blue won, 5-4, and of course wouldn’t lose again that season. It was the kind of comeback that gave Swamspcott “a feeling of near invincibility,” as Portnoy put it after the game.
“It was resiliency,” said Calichman. “I don’t think there was a game where they ever thought they were going to lose. We’d bide our time and be there at the time. Coach DeFelice used to say, ‘Bull your neck.’ Compete until it’s over.”
The same could be said for Danvers, a team that always went to the plate expected to make things happen. “Our guys were committed. They wanted it and they gave everything to the program,” said Day. “It was the No. 1 sport for all of them and they all felt like they had something to prove.”
Defense is often the overlooked part of baseball, but it’s no coincidence that these two state championship squads had two of best defensive players of their generations at shortstop. Peter Woodfork for Swampscott and Derek Lyons for Danvers were both silky smooth, multi-year starters.
Lyons, who stepped in as a freshman and was an All-American in college at Salem State, is arguably the best defensive player in Falcons’ history. He has the most assists in a season (71 in 2001) and in a career (184) and made just 33 errors in his four-year career according to the exhaustive records kept by Day.