MILFORD -- Ayer Shirley (2-1 pool play) carried a three-run lead into the fifth inning of Sunday's Cal Ripken 50/70 State Tournament game against host Milford.
Milford's Joel Anderson smashed a grand slam to spur a five-run fifth for the Scarlet Hawks. Ayer Shirley third baseman John Dupell answered the bell with a two-run home run over the center field fence to spur the Panthers past Milford 7-5.
Ayer Shirley starter Michael Woodland went five solid innings after being struck on the knee following a hot-shot single.
"Michael is a football player, we knew he wanted to finish the game," Ayer Shirley head coach Donald Consalvo said. "Michael brings the heat for a little guy. Everybody was ready to walk him off the field, but he said no way. There was no taking him off that field. Behind Connor Brown, he wins a lot of games for us."
Woodland picked up a couple of quick outs in the first inning before surrendering a walk to Jason Luchini. Luchini was left stranded as a curve ball from Woodland jammed Joel Anderson on the hands and resulted in a ground out to third to end the inning.
On a wild pitch by Milford starter Nick Wimette, Connor Brown, who doubled to left, trotted home to give Ayer Shirley a 1-0 lead. Ayer Shirley toted that one-run lead into the third inning, when it added two insurance runs on a two-run home run by Brown. Brown feasted on a first-pitch fastball and sent it soaring over the 182-foot short porch in left center field to push the Panthers' lead to 3-0.
Woodland, due in large part to his defense, coasted through the fourth inning. Joel Anderson lofted a lazy fly ball to right center field, but Deklan Heinz ranged over to make the diving catch.
Wimette sent the Panthers down in succession in the fourth to set the stage for the Milford offense. Chris Cassidy sparked a five-run Milford fifth with a bloop single to right field. Wilmette came across on a Markie Marolini fielder's choice to second.
Ayer Shirley looked to be well on its way out of the inning with two outs, but Milford continued its rally with a single by Cam Hakesley, a walk by Tyler Wetherbee and a single to Lucini. Anderson smashed a grand slam over the left center field fence to put the Scarlet Hawks up 5-3.
Donald Consalvo and his coaching staff shook the Ayer Shirley offense to life in the fifth inning.
"It is big when we go down with a grand slam, but we knew we had the top of the order coming up," Coach Consalvo said. "I told the kids this is why these guys are being put in the top of the order -- to generate runs. We needed our leadoff guy to get on, and he did. I don't ask for home runs, but when you hit it hard enough, it is going to go. These kids have been playing a long time. They know good things happen when they just put their head down and drive it."
Dupell and Andrew Consalvo went back-to-back with home runs to center field to spur the Panthers. Brown paced the Ayer Shirley offense going 3-for-3 with a home run and 3 RBI.
Brown came on in the seventh to pick up a nine-pitch save.
Woodland was named player of the game for his willingness to complete the game following being struck on the inside of his knee on a line drive.
Ayer Shirley won its second game of the day over Upton to advance to the Cal Ripken State semifinal against top-seeded Northbridge Monday.
The Panthers ;eft 13 runners on base in the 7-5 loss to the rams.