Hurley solo HR in seventh lifts Warriors to 2-1 victory
Published in the April 21, 2017 edition.
By JIM SOUTHMAYD
STONEHAM — Yesterday’s Middlesex League Freedom division baseball game between the Wakefield Memorial High and Stoneham High baseball teams was a well-played contest and was a classic pitchers’ duel.
However the Warriors came up with that one clutch hit and that hit was a big one as Tim Hurley’s solo home run in the top of the seventh was the difference in a 2-1 win for Wakefield.
Hurley, a senior captain, came up with two outs in the top of the seventh inning and took a Phil Conway offering deep to right-center field over the fence at Stoneham High School.
The Warriors made the lead hold up as the Spartans got the potential tying run on base in the bottom of the seventh and left the runner stranded there.
Wakefield is now 3-0 on the season and 2-0 in the league.
“Tim Hurley had the clutch hit with home run. Jake Nardone had a big hit with the triple after Will Shea’s double,” said coach Keith Forbes. “This is how we’re going to win games this year, with defense, pitching, and timely hitting. We’re not going to beat teams 8-1, but we’re going to have to grind out low scoring games, 2-1, 3-2.”
Wakefield scored its first run in the top of the fifth inning to tie the score at 1-1. With two outs, Shea doubled to left-center and scored on Nardone’s RBI triple to deep center.
Those runs were more than enough for Warrior pitchers Ben Coccoluto and Brett Maloney.
Coccoluto, a senior right-hander, pitched extremely well although he wasn’t involved in the decision. Coccoluto went five and a third innings giving up one run on two hits while striking out eight and walking two. He also hit a batter.
Maloney, a senior right-hander, earned the win in relief after picking up his first save on Wednesday. Maloney hurled an inning and two-thirds giving up one hit while striking out a batter.
Also pitching well in a losing effort was Spartan left-hander Conway. Conway went the distance giving up two runs on seven hits while striking out four batters and walking two.
All three pitchers received terrific support from their respective defenses as there were no errors in the contest.
“It was a well-played game,” said Forbes. “Both teams played well. We were able to grind it out. We’re off to a 3-0 start which is good and now we’ll get ready for our game on Saturday. We’re going to work on getting better.”
Hurley and Nardone each had two hits apiece to lead the Warriors. Also getting hits were Shea, Coccoluto, and Dave Melanson, a senior.
Nardone had a two out single to right field in the top of the first inning with two outs, but got no further than first base.
In the second inning, Coccoluto had a one out single to right-center field and stole second. Melanson walked, but a strikeout and a ground out resulted in the game remaining scoreless.
Wakefield had a terrific chance in the top of the third inning. Hurley lined a base hit up the middle and stole second. He moved up to third on a ground ball out. But two more grounders resulted in Hurley being left stranded 90 feet away.
The Spartans went in order in the first two innings, but got a runner to third base in the last of the third inning. Nick Allen double down the right field line and advanced to third on a wild pitch. But Coccoluto bore down, striking out two batters and inducing a grounder to shortstop.
Maloney drew a lead off walk in the fourth, but Stoneham turned a 5-4-3 double play. Melanson then doubled to right field with two outs, but a strikeout ended the half inning.
Stoneham scored its lone run in the home half of the fourth to take a 1-0 lead. Christos Argyropoulos walked and stole second base. He scored on a two out base hit to center field by Brendan Dudman. Dudman then was caught trying to steal second for the final out.
Wakefield answered immediately with the tying run in the top of the fifth on the back-to-back extra base hits by Shea and Nardone.
Allen was hit by a pitch in the last of the fifth, but Wakefield turned a 6-4-3 double play as Coccoluto faced the minimum three batters.
After the Warriors went in order in the sixth, pinch-hitter Cam Sacco walked to lead the frame off. Eric Roberts bunted, but the ball was popped up and Coccoluto made a diving attempt to catch the ball. He didn’t come up with the ball, but third baseman Mike Guanci picked up the ball and got the force out at second base.
At that point, Coccoluto exited the mound and Maloney came in to pitch.
“Ben was in the low 80s for his pitch count and he was going to come out anyway. We knew they were going to bunt on the ball and I just wanted to get an out,” said Forbes. “He also dove on the bunt as well. Ben pitched well, but I want to be careful with the pitch counts for the pitchers. It’s early in the season and we’re going to need them for the entire season.”
A ground ball to third base resulted in the second out. After Joey Carroll, who reached on the fielder’s choice, stole second, Maloney struck out the next hitter for the final out of the inning.
Hurley’s dinger gave Wakefield a 2-1 lead headed into the bottom of the seventh inning. Andrew Scarpa singled to left field with two outs, but a fly ball to center field ended the game.
Wakefield is scheduled to have its home opener tomorrow at 12 p.m. when it hosts Lexington in makeup game at Walsh Field.