BROCKTON — At this point, North Andover baseball coach Todd Dulin is used to just sitting back and watching Sebastian Keane do his thing.
But Wednesday night was something special.
With a trip to the Super 8 final on the line, Keane perhaps delivered his best performance of an already dominant spring. The Mass. Gatorade Player of the Year tossed eight scoreless innings, allowed just two hits and struck out 15 against a helpless Walpole team to lead the Knights to a 6-0 win at Brockton’s Campanelli Stadium.
In two Super 8 games — both wins — he’s pitched a combined 15.1 innings and has 24 strikeouts against the tournament’s No. 1 (Franklin) and No. 3 seed.
And as a result, the No. 8 Knights (19-4) are one win away from a state championship.
“Things felt great today,” said Keane, who improved his record to 11-1 while lowering his ERA to 0.52. “I don’t know why but we had like a two and a half hour bus ride and everyone was sleeping. We were just all exhausted when we got off the bus, but we just picked up where we left off and played a good game.”
Keane was just simply nasty all night.
Walpole (18-5) couldn’t catch up with his 92-mile-per-hour fastball, and whenever he mixed in the offspeed it left batters flailing. After Jackson Walonis singled with one out in the fourth, Keane retired 15 of the next 16 batters while only walking one during the stretch.
Jake McElroy then cleaned up the shutout with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
“Keane was nasty today,” said Dulin. “Really nasty. It was really great to see.”
The Knights basically got all the run support they needed in the first inning. After a wild pitch scored McElroy (2 for 4, RBI), Keane launched a sacrifice fly to left that scored Thomas Finn to make it a 2-0 game before Walpole even had an at-bat. In the second, McElroy blasted a triple that scored Joe Quinlan, then scored on a sac fly from Finn.
“That’s the best feeling ever to get those insurance runs,” said Keane. “That was awesome to start so quick.”
North Andover added another run in the fifth when Jack Morin (2 for 4, 2 RBIs) singled in McElroy. Then in the ninth Finn led off with a triple and beat the throw home on a Morin grounder.
Surprisingly, the Knights chased Walpole ace Cam Schlittler after just three innings. Schlittler, like Keane, is committed to Northeastern, and in fact the two are going to be roommates next year.
Well, if Keane chooses to go.
Besides Walpole, the other loser Wednesday night may have been the Red Sox — because the price to sign Keane is rising much higher than his strikeout total this spring (122).
“I know (Schlittler’s) pitched a lot this year,” said Keane. “He’s probably thrown around 70 innings. That’s tough to throw so many innings in a year.”
Walpole falls to the loser’s bracket, where they’ll play the winner of the St. John’s Prep vs. BC High game happening on Friday. The early speculation is that Walpole will be off until Sunday.
And, as for the Knights, they await whoever comes out of that cluster — probably sometime early next week.
Heck, maybe it’ll be enough time for Keane to start again in the finals.
“Words can’t describe it,” said Dulin.
Added Keane: “I’m so excited. We’re in the finals!”
North Andover 6, Walpole 0
Super 8 Winner’s Bracket Semifinal
North Andover (6): Jake McElroy ss/p 4-3-2, Thomas Finn rf 3-2-2, Jack Morin c 4-0-2, Sebastian Keane p/2b 3-0-1, Trevor Crosby 3b 5-0-1, Brett Dunham lf 4-0-0, Erik Whitehead dh 3-0-0, Jason Faro ph 1-0-0, Justin Connolly 1b 4-0-0, Joe Quinlan cf 3-1-1, Jackson Berberich 2b 0-0-0. Totals 34-6-9
Walpole (0): Jack Magane ss 4-0-0, Matt Falvey cf 4-0-1, Chris McLean dh 3-0-0, Jackson Walonis 3b 4-0-1, Will Jarvis rf 4-0-0, John Brady c 3-0-0, Matt Donato 1b 2-0-0, Aidan Murray 2b 3-0-0, Ryan Boyajian lf 3-0-0. Totals 30-0-2
RBI: NA — Morin 2, McElroy, Finn, Keane;
WP: Keane; LP: Schlittler
N Andover (19-4): 2 2 0 1 0 0 0 1 — 6
Walpole (18-5): 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 0