LOWELL — Whittier Tech reversed gears Wednesday afternoon in the Division 2 North semifinals at Martin Field and the result was not what any of the Wildcats would have liked.
“The kids were on such a high after beating Dracut (Monday), it’s tough to end like this,” said Whittier Tech coach Cheryl Begin after an 8-0 loss to Gloucester. “But they never gave up and I’m just so proud of them.
“This wasn’t our day but we have a young team, starting three freshmen, two sophomores, and to get this far was a great accomplishment. We made it to the (North) semis two years in a row in our first two years of Division 2 and we’ve been league champs five years in a row.”
Gloucester has been just as successful on the diamond and it was making its third trip to the North semifinals in the last four years. It failed to advance to the championship game on its first two attempts but was determined that the third time would be the charm.
“We wanted to score early and not take any chances,” said ace Gloucester pitcher Sydney McKay, who wound up throwing a three-hitter. “We wanted to take the pressure off.”
The Fishermen did just that and pretty much ended the drama early by scoring four runs in the bottom of the first inning. Riley Thibodeau singled to lead off, sophomore Ella Marshall doubled, Elizabeth Schuster reached on an error when a pop-up got lost in the sun and Maddie Machado blasted a three-run triple and then scored.
Gloucester didn’t need any insurance after that but it added two runs in the third after Marshall (3 for 4) led off with a triple and added single runs in the fourth and sixth.
McKay, meanwhile, was more than effective, allowing just the three hits while striking out seven without walking a batter. Only in the first, when Alyssa Habib singled and Alyssa Michel reached on an error, did the Wildcats put more than one runner on base.
The Northeast League Player of the Year, McKay also benefited from some fine defensive plays, including two by Marshall at shortstop and one by centerfielder Tracy Wood.
Besides Habib, sophomore Dani Lear and freshman Jaclyn Bioren had base hits for Whittier, which ended its fine season with an 18-4 record. Bioren, in fact, was on base three times, once because of an error and the other on a fielder’s choice.
Senior pitcher Nicole Verrette did not have her best game, giving up nine hits, but she did strike out six without walking a batter and two errors hurt her cause.
Gloucester (19-3) advances to Saturday’s championship game against No. 1 seed Triton, which defeated Arlington Catholic, 12-4, in the other semifinal game Wednesday.
Gloucester 8, Whittier 0
Div. 2 North Semifinals
Whittier (0): Greaney 2b 3-0-0, Habib ss 3-0-1, Michel 3b 3-0-0, Campbell 1b 3-0-0, Verrette p 3-0-0, Lear c 3-0-1, Bioren dp 3-0-1, Gonzalez lf 2-0-0, Bailey ph 1-0-0, Collazo ph 1-0-0, McGrath cf 0-0-0. Totals 25-0-3
Gloucester (8): Thibodeau lf 4-1-1, Marshall ss 4-2-3, Wood cf 4-1-1, Schuster c 2-1-0, Hoofnagle dp 3-0-1, Machado 1b 3-1-2, Aiello 2b 3-0-0, McKay p 3-1-1, Grow rf 1-1-0, Orlando 3b 0-0-0. Totals 27-8-9
RBI: Machado 4, Wood, Marshall
WP: McKay; LP: Verrette
Whittier (18-4): 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 0
Gloucester (19-3): 4 0 2 1 0 1 0 — 7