Warriors top Spartans 3-1 in well-pitched contest
By JIM SOUTHMAYD
STONEHAM — In its first two games, the Wakefield Memorial High baseball team has been involved in a pair of high-scoring games. On Friday afternoon at Stoneham High School, the Warriors not only played in a low-scoring contest but they also showed that they can win the tight games.
Wakefield received a fine pitching effort from its two hurlers, played nearly flawless defense in the field and had some timely hitting to defeat host Stoneham by a 3-1 score in a well-played pitchers’ duel.
The Warriors are now 2-1 overall on the season with the victory.
Sophomore right-hander Mike Guanci made his first varsity start and it was a dandy. Guanci pitched five plus innings giving up one run on three hits while striking out two batters, walking one batter and hitting a batter. He also committed a balk. Guanci earned the win.
Shawn Smeglin, a senior right-hander, hurled the final two frames of relief and helped Wakefield out of a sixth inning jam. Smeglin earned the save giving up one hit while striking out three batters.
“It was a well-pitched game,” said Coach Keith Forbes. “Guanci is a sophomore making his first start and showed that the future is bright. He showed a lot of composure out there. He only walked one batter. I told my pitchers I wanted them to compete out there and not back down. Don’t give up any freebies with walks and hit batsmen. Make them earn the runs to win.
“Smeglin came in and battled in a tough situation,” continued Forbes. “They got just the one run. He challenged hitters and he used his fastball effectively.”
Stoneham pitcher Brandon Dudman pitched a fine game in his own right. Dudman went seven innings giving up three runs on 10 hits while striking out six and walking two. He also threw two wild pitches, one of which led to a run.
Leading the way at the plate for the Warriors were Corey Imbriano, Tighe Beck and Smeglin who had two hits apiece. Anthony Cecere, Matt Mercurio, Andrew Patti and Mike Caraglia each had a hit as well. Beck and Patti had a pair of big hits which plated two runs.
“There were no fielding mistakes, we had the one error on the pickoff attempt,” said Forbes. “But when you don’t make errors, you give yourself a chance to win. We also had some timely hitting. Corey Imbriano is always on base and Tighe Beck had 11 or 12 hits in three games.”
Imbriano singled to left field and took second on an errant pickoff throw by Dudman in the top of the first inning. Cecere lined a sharp single to center field with one out to put runners at the corners. On a ground ball to third base, Cecere went in with a hard slide at second and took out the second baseman forcing an errant throw. Cecere was called out for runner’s interference by the umpire and Stoneham was awarded a 5-4-3 double play to end the half frame.
The Warriors went in order in the second, Caraglia had a one out infield hit to second but was caught stealing in the third and Mercurio had a two out single to center field in the fourth inning. But the game remained 0-0.
The Spartans, meanwhile, had just three base runners over the first four innings themselves.
Dudman had a one out single to center field in the first and advanced to second on a balk. Stoneham went in order in both the second and third innings as Guanci retired nine straight batters with a little help from first baseman Andrew Auld who made two fine plays on the right side of the diamond in the second.
In the fourth, Nick Toussaint walked with one out and John Abreau was hit by a pitch with two outs. But a grounder to shortstop ended the inning.
The Warriors broke through with a run in the top of the fifth inning. Patti walked, stole second base, took third on a ground ball out and scored on a wild pitch. Smeglin later singled to right field but, on a hit and run, Caraglia was robbed of a base hit as right fielder Max Messina made a sensational catch on a sinking line drive and then fired to first base for the third out of the inning.
After Stoneham went in order in the fifth, Wakefield scored what turned out to be the game-winning run in the top of the sixth inning. Imbriano and Beck lined base hits into left field and pinch-hitter Neil Fitzgerald laid a bunt down the first base line to advance the base runners. Mercurio walked to load the bases with one out. Paul McGunigle tapped a grounder to second base as Imbriano was forced at second plate for the second out of the inning. Patti sent a grounder deep into the hole at shortstop, however, as Beck scored. With the bases still loaded, a grounder to second ended the frame.
Stoneham scored its lone run in the top of the sixth inning and had a chance to tie the game. Corey O’Brien and Dudman both singled to right field as Smeglin relieved Guanci on the mound. Toussaint reached on an infield hit to second base to load the bases. Nate Cox lifted a sacrifice fly ball to left field as O’Brien crossed the plate. After an errant pickoff throw to second base allowed runners to move up to second and third with one out, Smeglin bore down and struck out the next two batters to keep the game at 2-1.
The Warriors scored an insurance run in the top of the seventh. Smeglin singled to left field and took second on a wild pitch. Two outs later, Beck dropped a base hit to center field as pinch-runner Joe Stackhouse scored.
Smeglin then retired the Spartans in order in the seventh as Wakefield emerged with the victory.
“We’re 2-1 and it’s a nice start,” said Forbes. “But we want to keep getting better.”
Wakefield was scheduled to play St. Mary’s of Lynn in a non-league game this morning at Walsh Field. Wakefield’s next league game is Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. when it takes on Wilmington at Walsh Field.