After several days of controversy, it was finally time to hit the diamond on Saturday morning in Lowell, where Chelmsford took on Methuen. The Lions grabbed an early lead, saw it slip away, but eventually advanced to Sunday's championship game with a 7-5 comeback win.
Both Chelmsford and Methuen were missing players - four for the Lions and three for the Rangers - as the students were taking the SATs. The teams had pleaded with the MIAA to change Saturday's game, but the officials declined, a decision that sparked controversy around the state saying students were being forced to choose between academics and athletics.
When lineups were introduced before the game, each team laid out the jerseys of their missing athletes on the field behind them. Chelmsford hung four jerseys on coat hangers from the dugout rail, representing their missing teammates.
According to the Boston Globe, Alexander Hill, Michael Tice, Benjamin Sauter, and Quinn Jackson were the players missing from the game due to SATs. Jack Hansbury and Quinn Cooney reportedly arrived to the game late after concluding one subject SAT tests.
On the field, Derek Adamson opened the scoring in the fourth inning with an RBI single, and he soon after scampered home on a wild pitch for a 2-0 edge. Nicholas Beati's infield single made it 3-0, and soon after the lead was up to four runs.
But five Methuen runs in the sixth inning gave the Rangers the lead, and put Chelmsford's season in jeopardy.
The Lions bounced back quickly though, pushing home three runs in the visiting half of the seventh inning. After closing out the 7-5 win, Chelmsford sealed a Sunday date with Andover in the championship game, a surprising run for the bracket's No. 11 seed.
Chelmsford and Andover will hit the field Sunday on Fraser Field in Lynn with a 6 p.m. start time. Check back with Chelmsford Patch for coverage of Sunday's title game.