WALTHAM — The Bishop Fenwick baseball team has been down in every game of the state tournament. But the Crusaders are still not out.
Behind some clutch hitting and a remarkable eight-out save from senior Trey Deloury, Fenwick came from behind to beat Swampscott, 3-2, in the Division 3 North semifinals at Bentley University's Defelice Field on Wednesday.
The Big Blue left the potential tying run in scoring position in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings and got it on base in the seventh. Deloury, who came on with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth and escaped, worked around all those baserunners to send Fenwick to its 11th straight win and its first North final in 15 years.
"Our pitching ... right now, it's pray and then hand it over to Trey," Crusader head coach Russ Steeves said with a smile.
No. 4 seed Fenwick (17-7) advances to face Lynnfield (a 6-3 winner over Gloucester in the other semifinal) on Saturday at Lowell's Alumni Field (3 p.m.).
All of Fenwick's runs came in the third. Senior Cory Bright doubled to score Ethan Belt (single) and Deloury (walk) to give the Crusaders the lead for good after he'd struck out with two on in the opening frame.
"I got another chance and I knew I had to redeem myself right there," said Bright, a senior captain who caught the final out and also pitched out of a bases loaded jam in the fourth. "It's pretty amazing to be going to the final in our last season of sports at Fenwick when we didn't quite punch through in other sports. We want to keep riding this wave."
Swampscott got outstanding pitching from senior Nick Reiser, who went the distance and worked around 12 hits to allow just three earned. Reiser struck out seven and threw 119 pitches, stranding 11 on base behind him to keep his team within striking distance.
"Nick did a terrific job," said Swampscott head coach Joe Caponigro. "He battled all day. Give Fenwick credit, they're a fine team with a fine coach and they won a really good ballgame."
Harrison Brickett followed Bright's go-ahead knock with an RBI single to make it 3-1. Swampscott (14-9) cut into the lead when Bright issued a bases loaded walk when he relieved Christian Loescher (3 2/3 innings, four hits) with the count already 2-0; with the bases still full, though, Bright got out of it when shortstop Scott Emerson made an outstanding line drive catch on a missile launched off the bat of Ryan Graciale.
"Cory finds a way," said Steeves. "He always gives us a couple of outs in a big spot in these games."
Though Fenwick's pitchers combined for six walks and two hit batters, Swampscott didn't take advantage.
Jonathan Oriakhi's leadoff double in the sixth also didn't yield the tying run when Deloury got three straight pop-outs. Cam O'Brien's two-out single in the seventh kept the Big Blue alive but Deloury got another flyball to end it.
"Trey comes in with the bases loaded and closes the job. He's been unbelievable," said Bright.
The Big Blue's woes with men on base went all the way back to the opening inning. After Drew Olivieri doubled and Graciale was beaned, Dylan January clubber what could've been a 2-run double to center. The ball hung in the air, though, and the baserunners had trouble reading whether it could be caught — leading to a relay home to gun down the lead runner. Though Swampscott got the lead, 1-0, on Zach Elwell's RBI single, by the end of the one-run game that miscue loomed large.
"We kind of had some shoddy baserunning that maybe cost us a couple of runs. Maybe that could've been a bigger inning," Caponigro said. "But we still got the lead and we had plenty of chances with men on base. We just couldn't get that big hit."
Keegan O'Connor, Belt, Brickett, Scott Emerson and leadoff man Angelo McCullough all had two hits for Fenwick, which got one from Jake Murphy and had a 12-6 edge in hits. Reiser willed his Swampscott defense into not allowing Fenwick to extend the lead, with the highlight being a double play turned when shortstop Aidan Graciale caught a hard-liner to strand two in the seventh.
"Their guy pitched great. We left some guys on base out there, but we just said 'Let's keep our heads up, keep doing our thing in the field and win it with our pitching," said Steeves.
Crusader pitching allowed only three hits after the first frame. Oriakhi had two for the Big Blue with one apiece from O'Brien, Oliveiri and January, who reached in three of his four at-bats. His only out was a towering fly to deep left that might've been a home run at some North Shore parks, but not at spacious Bentley.