Cape Tech Baseball Ends Postseason Drought With Win; Falls In Round Of 32

June 05, 2024

HARWICH – It had been 12 years since the Cape Cod Tech baseball team took the diamond for a postseason game, so it was fitting that the Crusaders had to wait for their game to be decided.

A little less than 72 hours after No. 32 Cape Tech began its Division 5 preliminary-round game against No. 33 Athol, the Crusaders held on for a 4-3 victory Sunday after senior catcher Jake Abrosini threw two Athol runners out at second base during the seventh inning, including one for the final out to secure the win.

“I said to them, ‘Guys listen, we made the playoffs for the first time in 12 years. If we lose and go home, we already exceeded expectations,’” Cape Tech’s first-year coach Frank Zaino said. “We did everything we needed to do. We didn’t do a lot, but we made the right plays and that’s what we’ve been doing all year.”

The game was suspended Thursday due to rain with the score tied 2-2 in the top of the third. Senior Aidan Choukri inherited the bases loaded when play resumed Sunday. After allowing an unearned run in the third on a groundout, Choukri settled in to earn the victory after he struck out nine batters and didn’t surrender a hit in five innings of relief.

“I’m super happy,” said Choukri, a South Dennis resident. “I’m not going to lie, I doubted myself walking into it. I showed out, so I’m super glad to have been able to throw a good game.”

Tech built a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second on Thursday after senior Trevor Ryone scored on a wild pitch and junior Matthew Riker crossed home on an overthrow. Athol answered with two runs off Ryone — who started on the mound — in the top of the third before the game was halted due to heavy rain.

Because Athol had its graduation on Friday and Tech had its on Saturday, the remainder of the game was pushed off to Sunday. Despite beginning the restart with the bases loaded and nobody out, Choukri limited the damage before sophomore Mason Tomlinson tied the game 3-3 with an RBI single in the bottom of the third, then scored the winning run on a groundout by William Mullen later in the frame.

As good as Choukri was on the mound, it was his batterymate, Abrosini, who made two of the biggest plays of the game in the final inning.

“He’s been back there all year long,” Zaino said of the catcher. “When I took the job nine days before the season started, he wasn’t playing. I had to talk to him because it was a new coach and he didn’t like what was going on. I asked him and talked him into playing, and that’s been huge because he’s probably thrown out 85 percent of base runners this year.”

Abrosini said he was ready for the Bears to try to steal once they were down to their final out.

“I’ve caught since Little League, I haven’t played another spot,” said Abrosini, an Orleans resident. “So, this was kind of like muscle memory.”

Thursday’s win sent Tech to the Round of 32, where it suffered an 11-0 loss to top-seeded Georgetown on Monday afternoon. Although it wasn’t the outcome the Crusaders had hoped for, the team ultimately finished with a 13-9 record after beginning the season with plenty of question marks.

“I didn’t know what to expect when I came here because I didn’t know anyone,” Zaino said. “I had to learn names, I had to figure out who was going to play. I probably hurt some feelings because guys who were playing last year aren’t playing, but we’re here to win and we’re doing something right.”

For the seniors, ending the school’s 12-year postseason drought was a fitting cap to their careers. After missing out on baseball their freshmen year due to COVID-19, the group closed out their senior years with a historic win for the program.

“We didn’t get to play my freshman year, but in my three years this was our best team,” Ambrosini said.

Choukri agreed.

“This is definitely awesome,” he said. “I think this is the most well-rounded team that we’ve had and it’s super exciting to actually be in the playoffs for baseball.”