Warriors clinch berth with wins over Stoneham and Reading

MATT MERCURIO had two hits including a double in Wakefield’s 4-2 triumph over Stoneham on Friday at Walsh Field. The Warriors then crushed Reading by a 14-3 score to clinch a state tournament berth. (Donna Larsson Photo)

MATT MERCURIO had two hits including a double in Wakefield’s 4-2 triumph over Stoneham on Friday at Walsh Field. The Warriors then crushed Reading by a 14-3 score to clinch a state tournament berth. (Donna Larsson Photo)


WAKEFIELD — The Warrior baseball team played its worst game of the year but followed it up with one if not its best contest of the season.

However, Wakefield won both games to clinch a state tournament berth. On Friday afternoon, the Warriors rallied for a 4-2 win over Stoneham at Walsh Field. On Saturday morning, Wakefield crushed Reading by a 14-3 tally in a makeup game at Morton Field.

The Warriors are now 10-3 overall and reached the goal that barely eluded them a year ago. It is the first state tournament berth for Wakefield since the 2009 season.

Against Reading on Saturday, senior Shawn Smeglin recorded the win for the Warriors after pitching five and two-thirds scoreless innings.

Senior Anthony Cecere and junior Paul McGunigle each went 2-for-3 with a home run.

No further details of the Reading game were available at press time.

Wakefield got into the position to clinch a state tournament berth as they rallied for three runs in the last of the sixth inning to defeat Stoneham by a 4-2 score on Friday.

The contest was a sloppy one as both teams made five errors. In fact none of the runs were earned.

The Warriors trailed by a 2-1 score headed into the bottom of the sixth inning when took advantage of three Spartan miscues to plate all three of their runs.

With one out, Matt Mercurio doubled off the fence in left field. Cecere reached on an error at first base and stole second base. With runners on second and third and two outs, Mike Guanci reached on an error at third base as pinch-runner Neil Fitzgerald scored. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch before a miscue at shortstop on a ground ball by Andrew Auld brought in Cecere and Guanci.

Auld nearly scored as well on a base hit to left field by Joe Greer but the Stoneham left fielder made a nice throw to the plate for the third out of the frame. But the Warriors got the runs they needed.

Nick Toussaint reached on an infield hit to third base and Shane Rhuda lined a base hit to left field in the top of the seventh with one out. But Auld, who entered the game in relief, got a comebacker to the mound and then snagged a line drive to end the game.

“We played our least clean game of the season,” said Coach Keith Forbes. “There were a lot of errors by both teams. But we got the win which was nice. Stoneham hasn’t won a game but we had two tough games against them. This league is so close. We need to focus from the first inning until the seventh inning. We need the intensity for the whole game.”

Auld pitched two innings of relief and earned the victory. The junior right-hander gave up no runs on two hits while striking out one and walking one.

Joe Stackhouse started the game for Wakefield and pitched five plus innings giving up two runs (both unearned) on four hits. The senior left-hander walked four and hit a batter.

A walk, a sacrifice bunt, and an error on Stackhouse resulted in runners on the corners in the top of the first. But a ground ball to second base ended the frame.

In the top of the second, Eric Roberts and Mike Oliphant reached on a back-to-back errors by Corey Imbriano at shortstop. But in between, Roberts was picked off first base. That helped because later in the frame Doherty singled to left field with two outs. Stoneham was kept off the scoreboard as a ground out ended the inning.

The Warriors took a 1-0 lead in the last of the second inning. Cecere doubled to left-center field and went to third base on an error at shortstop which allowed Guanci to reach base safely. Auld lined a single into left field as Cecere crossed the plate.

Brandon Cann singled in the top of the third but was left stranded in the top of the third inning. The Spartans tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the fourth, however. Roberts was hit by a pitch and took second on an errant pickoff throw by Stackouse. Oliphant singled to right field to score Roberts.

For Wakefield Tighe Beck walked in the third inning with two outs but was caught trying to steal second. In the fourth, Mercurio and Andrew Patti both singled. But a 1-6-3 double play took Wakefield out of what could have been a big inning. In the fifth, Auld walked and Greer was hit by a pitch for base runners. But the Warriors didn’t come up with the big hit to score the runners.

Stoneham took a 2-1 lead in the top of the sixth without the benefit of a hit. Roberts walked and pinch-hitter Brandon McCarthy dropped down a sacrifice bunt. The throw for third by Patti was an errant one as runners were at the corners. Oliphant re-entered the game and stole second base. A wild pitch brought in Roberts.

Stackhouse walked the next batter and was relieved by Auld. After a pop up, Kyle MacKay was picked off at first base for the second out. Corey O’Brien drew a walk to put runners at the corners. Stoneham tried to execute a delayed double steal, but O’Brien was thrown out for the final out of the frame.

Wakefield didn’t panic and it rallied in the home half of the sixth with three runs with some help from the Spartans.

Stoneham pitcher Toussaint pitched six innings giving up four runs (none earned) on six hits. The right-hander struck out three, walked two, and hit a batter. He also threw a wild pitch.

Now that Wakefield has secured a state tournament berth, it will be setting its sights on bigger things such as trying to in the Middlesex League Freedom division. The Warriors take on league rival Wilmington this afternoon at 3:45 p.m. at the North Street School Field.