Published in the August 10, 2017 edition

NORTH READING — Just one week after Benevento field hosted the dramatic Massachusetts’s Little League finals, the hometown boys faced off in an exciting win over a strong Wakefield team. The Hornets came out on top 8-5 in an exciting six-inning game.

The Summer League brings the boys together for the love of baseball with the goal of raising money for The Jimmy Fund. Since 1987, the hard work and winning spirit of the coaches, parents and, most importantly, the players, have raised nearly $5 million for the Jimmy Fund. A tip of the cap goes to District 13 administrator John Berardi for his time and effort for such a great cause.

A Saturday rain out could have been the key to the victory, because the game was moved from Woburn to the North Reading Complex. 

 “Nobody beats us on our home turf,” said Coach Brad Jones. 

The boys took that advice to heart and came out fast in the first inning with a 2-0 lead. 

“I don’t give out game balls, baseball is too much of a team sport, but if I did today’s would go to Ryan Baker,” said coach Delano. 

Baker pitched a masterful game for five innings and let up only three runs. He ran out of pitches early in the sixth. He also set the tone for the game at his first at bat. On a 2-0 count, he hit a frozen rope line drive over the centerfield fence, giving the hornets a 2-0 lead after one inning.

Every good team needs a great catcher. That is what this team had in Aiden Driscoll. Not only did Driscoll score two of the teams runs, he was steady and calming behind the plate. Defensively he showed off his strong arm by throwing out a base runner in the middle of a fourth-inning rally by Wakefield.

The Hornets plated another run in the second with two outs when Joey Gattuso hit a double to score Rowan Oostman. Then in the third John Paolucci crossed the plate on a bases loaded double by Driscoll. Ethan (the big E) Green scored Driscoll and Baker when he hit a clutch double. 

The third ended with North Reading up 7-0.

At this point the boys needed to play defense and hold off the now stunned Wakefield team. Strong plays in the field by Paolucci, John Mangano, and Adam Bakr kept the Wakefield offense in check.

Wakefield did manage two runs in the fourth, then one in the fifth, and entered the final inning down 8-3. The resilient Wakefield team would not give up. They plated two more in the sixth, and loaded the bases with the score 8-5. Closer Owen Delano confidently took the ball in his last game at Benevento with two outs and the bases jammed. The count went to 2-2 when the Wakefield batter grounded to a diving Oostman who made an acrobatic throw to a waiting Aldo Vittozzi at second base for the final out.

The Hornets enjoyed an undefeated summer with contributions from everyone in the lineup. A solid game was also played by leadoff batter Nick Jones and the ever versatile Liam Rodger. A special thanks goes to coach Rob Vittozzi for keeping the boys focused against a well-coached and enthusiastic Wakefield team.