WORCESTER — As the last remaining holdover from Taunton’s last trip to a baseball championship in 2019, Ryan MacDougall has taken it upon himself to serve as a calming voice in the dugout these past few months.
He’s a key reason why the Tigers now find themselves in the same position three years later. The Dayton commit finished 2-for-3 at the plate with a pair of RBI, and also tossed three innings on the mound as second-seeded Taunton punched its ticket back to the Div. 1 title game with an 8-4 victory over No. 3 Catholic Memorial at Fitton Field in Worcester.
“It feels great,” MacDougall said afterward. “We have a very young squad, so it feels good. I’m not being cocky or anything, but I feel like the team looks up to me as one of the guys. I have to make sure I’m at my best at all times. I’m just really excited.”
The Tigers (21-3) were also aided by the performance of Dawson Bryce, who went 3-for-4 with three RBI.
The first few innings featured no shortage of hitting; Taunton batted around in the opening frame. MacDougall got things going with an RBI double, then later scored on a groundout as the Tigers took a 2-0 edge.
However, Catholic Memorial was quick to answer. Connor Coulter drove in a run with a single in the top of the second, as the Knights evened things up.
The chess match continued into the bottom half of the stanz as MacDougall and Bryce connected for back-to-back RBI singles to provide Taunton a 4-2 lead. Colby DeCouta later drew a walk with the bases juice as the Tigers took a 5-2 advantage into the third.
WORCESTER, MA – JUNE 14: Taunton’s Jesse Chavez attempts to make the tag as Catholic Memorial’s Curt Boyd slides safely into home June 14, 2022 in WORCESTER, Massachusetts. (Staff Photo By Chris Christo/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)
MacDougall came in to relieve starter Shawn Cali. While he allowed a few hits and two quick runs (both unearned) off the top, the senior quickly settled into his outing, and eventually kept the Knights’ bats silent for the next few innings.
“I threw a lot of fastballs,” said MacDougall. “First inning, kind of got knocked around. But in the second and third, I started to throw a little bit more offspeed, changeups, curveballs. That started working for me, and I felt comfortable.”
Later on in the bottom of the sixth, Bryce cranked a two-run triple down the left field line to give Taunton an 8-4 leadiheading into the final frame.
Colin Botelho capped the victory for the Tigers, recording the save with his fourth strikeout of the game.
After a brief hiatus, Taunton coach Blair Bourque and his group are once again on the doorstep of greatness. Now, they will attempt to finish the job this weekend by capturing a state championship.
“Not too many guys have been in this spot before,” said Bourque. “Again, this is all new. It’s not going to be easy. We know it’s not going to be easy. We’ve just got to go out and compete, and leave it all out on the field like we’ve been doing.”