Warriors rally against Wilmington with five-run sixth
Published in the May 13, 2016 edition.
By JIM SOUTHMAYD
WAKEFIELD — The Wakefield Memorial High baseball team has rallied late in games while behind or tied on numerous occasions this season.
So why would yesterday’s key Middlesex League Freedom division clash against Wilmington be any different?
The Warriors broke a 3-3 tie with a five-run sixth inning as they defeated the Wildcats by an 8-3 tally at Walsh Field.
Wakefield increased its overall record to 13-2 and 11-2 in the league. The Warriors clinched at least a share of its second straight league championship with their win and Melrose’s 6-0 loss to Burlington yesterday. Wakefield can clinch the league title outright against Melrose on Tuesday.
As for yesterday, right after the Wildcats tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the sixth, Wakefield answered immediately with its big inning. The Warriors sent nine players to the plate and scored five runs to essentially put the game away.
Mike Guanci, a junior, walked. Tighe Beck, a senior, then bunted back to pitcher Matt Woods, who opted to throw to second. But his throw went into center field as Guanci wound up on third base. After Beck stole second base, junior Will Shea lifted a fly ball deep enough to center field to score Guanci and allowed Beck to tag up and take third.
Tim Hurley, a junior, then successfully laid down a bunt on the suicide squeeze to score Beck and make it a 5-3 game.
Corey Imbriano and Paul McGunigle, both seniors, lined base hits to left field as Woods exited the game and was relieved by Chris Grecco. Senior Matt Mercurio crushed a two-run double to left-center field to plate both Imbriano and McGunigle. Pinch-runner Matt Smith, a senior, scored the fifth run of the frame when Andrew Auld, a senior, smashed a triple to deep center field.
“This team doesn’t quit. We’ve been down or tied late in games before,” said Coach Keith Forbes. “Tighe Beck put down a big bunt and the pitcher threw into the outfield which gave us the opportunity. Will Shea had a good at bat. He didn’t get a hit, but he did what he had to in that situation with a fly ball to score a run. Tim Hurley had a good at bat with the bunt on the squeeze. Good at bats became contagious with Corey and Paul getting hits and Mercurio doubled and Auld tripled.
“The sixth inning as a whole was great,” added Forbes. “We’ve faced Woods before and he is crafty. He has a good curveball and is a pretty good pitcher.”
The lead was more than enough for Adam Chanley, a senior right-hander, as he retired Wilmington in order in the seventh inning to earn his fourth victory of the year. Chanley pitched an inning and two-thirds of relief striking out two batters.
“Adam Chanley is 4-1 and he pounds the strike zone,” said Forbes.
Imbriano started the game and went five and a third innings giving up three runs on five hits while striking out four and walking two.
“Corey did a great job. He only threw about 80 pitches,” said Forbes. “I probably left him in for one batter too long. That’s on me. This is the first time he has pitched in a hot game this year. I left him him in for one pitch too late.”
Mercurio had a two out single to right field in the first but Wakefield didn’t get on the scoreboard until the second inning when it plated two runs.
Guanci lined a base hit into left field with one out and stole second. Beck walked. After an infield fly ball for the second out, Hurley smacked a two-run triple to right field to score both Guanci and Beck.
Wilmington cut the lead to 2-1 in the top of the third inning. Rob Ducharme walked, took second on a wild pitch, moved up to third on a fly ball to right field and scored on a base hit to right field by Dan Gracia.
In the last of the third, Mercurio was hit by a pitch and Auld reached on a fielder’s choice with both runners being safe on the play to shortstop. A pop to second base resulted in an inning ending double play.
Wakefield took a 3-1 lead in the fourth inning with a little two out magic. Shea reached on an infield hit to second base. Hurley walked. Imbriano singled in Shea to give the Warriors a 3-1 advantage.
Auld had a two out single to right field in the fifth and stole second. But he was left stranded. Wakefield, however, didn’t leave runners stranded in the sixth inning.
Woods went five and two-thirds innings giving up seven runs (six earned) on eight hits while striking out six, walking three and hitting a batter.
Grecco hurled the final third of an inning for the Wildcats and was touched up for one run on two hits while striking out a batter.
In addition to the Wilmington run, it only had two other base runners in the first five innings. Nick Poli had a two out single to right field in the second and Jared Aucoin drew a two out walk in the fifth inning.
But the Wildcats had three hits and tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the sixth inning.
Gracia doubled to right-center field. He took third on a bloop base hit to left field by Grecco. Joe Kelley singled up the middle as Gracia scored. Chanley came in to pitch and the two runners moved up to second and third base on a wild pitch. Pinch-hitter Jackson Gillis lifted a sac-fly to center field to score Grecco.
The game didn’t remain tied for long, however, as the Warriors won their eight straight game and haven’t lost a contest since it came up short against the Wildcats by a 3-2 score on April 25.
Wakefield hosts Melrose on Tuesday afternoon at 3:45 p.m. at Walsh Field.