Warriors win fourth straight with one-run victories over Wildcats, Spartans

TIGHE BECK (#16) slides into third base safely on a double steal in the sixth inning as Wilmington third baseman Devin Field dives to catch the throw to keep it from going into left field. Beck eventually scored the game-winning run on a wild pitch as the Warriors outdueled the Wildcats by a 2-1 score yesterday at Walsh Field. (Donna Larsson Photo)

TIGHE BECK (#16) slides into third base safely on a double steal in the sixth inning as Wilmington third baseman Devin Field dives to catch the throw to keep it from going into left field. Beck eventually scored the game-winning run on a wild pitch as the Warriors outdueled the Wildcats by a 2-1 score yesterday at Walsh Field. (Donna Larsson Photo)


WAKEFIELD — The Wakefield Memorial High baseball team has won some close ballgames so far this season. But none of them compared to the one-run contest the Warriors pulled out yesterday morning at Walsh Field.

Wakefield plated single runs in the fifth and the sixth innings despite mustering only one hit against Wilmington ace left-hander Jackson Gillis as it recorded a 2-1 victory over the Wildcats for its fourth consecutive victory of the spring.

The Warriors increased their record to 4-1 overall on the season with the win and are 3-1 in the Middlesex League Freedom division.

Wakefield also pulled out a one-run decision on Monday morning at Walsh Field as it edged St. Mary’s of Lynn by a 4-3 tally in a non-league contest.

Since losing their season opener, the Warriors have won four straight. Wakefield defeated Watertown, 15-8, in nine innings and it scored a 3-1 triumph over Stoneham before its two one-run victories.

“I told the kids before the game that Wilmington is an elite team,” said Coach Keith Forbes. “If we’re going to make a run in the league and for the playoffs, then we need to beat a team like this and a pitcher like this. Gillis is one of the best pitchers in the state. We knew it was going to be a grind.”

Gillis hurled six innings giving up two runs on one hit. The lefty struck out 11 batters but walked four batters, hit two batters and threw a pair of wild pitches as he struggled with his control a little bit. That’s when the Warriors capitalized.

Meanwhile, Wakefield starter, senior right-hander Shawn Smeglin, pitched a pretty good game in his own right. Smeglin went five innings giving up one run on five hits while striking out four and walking two batters. He didn’t receive a decision.

Reliever Joe Stackhouse, a senior left-hander, earned the victory in relief. Stackhouse hurled the last two innings giving up two hits while striking out a batter.

“Smeglin gave us a chance and Stackhouse did an unbelievable job in relief to get the win,” said Forbes. “It was the second game in a row Stackhouse pitched well for us in relief.”

The lone Warrior hit was an RBI triple in the fifth inning by Joe Greer which tied the game at 1-1 at the time.

Other than the one hit, Wakefield had to take advantage of the freebies (walks, hit by pitches) and it was aggressive on the base paths with four steals.

Wilmington had two base runners in the first two inning as Peter Daley drew a two out walk in the first inning and Gillis drew a leadoff walk in the second. But it wasn’t until the third inning when the Wildcats plated their lone run of the game.

Matt Spurr singled and stole second base. Zach Abbott singled as well to put runners at the corners. Graham Smith lifted a sacrifice fly ball to right field to score Spurr. Abbott advanced to second on an errant throw by Greer in right field. But a fly ball to left field and a strikeout ended the inning without further damage.

The Warriors, meanwhile, went in order in the first inning. With one out in the second, Paul McGunigle walked but was thrown out trying to steal second base. Andrew Patti walked and stole second. Patti advanced to third on a wild pitch but was left stranded at third as a strikeout ended the frame.

Greer led off the home half of the third inning with a walk and advanced to second base on an errant pickoff throw by Gillis. But a pop up to the catcher and two strikeouts resulted in Wakefield coming up empty.

In the top of the fourth, James Hill led off with a base hit to center field. Gillis hit a comebacker to the mound and Smeglin started what was a 1-6-3 double play. Brian Cavanaugh then reached on an error at second base by Mike Caraglia. Cavanaugh stole second base but a fly ball to left field ended the frame.

Wakefield went in order in the last of the fourth as all three batters that faced Gillis struck out. Gillis struck out six batters in a row from the third inning to the fifth and retired seven batters in a row.

Wilmington had base runners in the top of the fifth but Smeglin bore down and kept his team within a run. Spurr singled to left field but was caught trying to steal second base for the second out. Smith doubled to center field but a fly ball to left field ended the half inning.

The Warriors tallied a run in the last of the fifth inning to tie the game at 1-1. With one out, Andrew Auld walked and stole second. He scored on a triple to the gap in right-center field as Smith, the center fielder, was unable to run the ball down and make the catch although he nearly did.

Greer stood at third base with one out as the Warriors called for a suicide squeeze play with Caraglia at the plate. Caraglia had the ball go off his bat and into his mouth as he reportedly lost of pair of teeth and was forced to leave the game. Tim Hurley finished the at bat after the foul ball and grounded to shortstop for the second out. A strikeout then ended the inning but Wakefield tied the game at 1-1.

Daley led off the top of the sixth inning with a walk as Smeglin was relieved by Stackhouse. Wakefield then turned a 6-4-3 double play for two quick outs. After a walk to Gillis, Stackhouse got Cavanaugh on a called third strike for the final out.

Wakefield then pushed across the eventual game-winning run in the home half of the sixth without the benefit of a hit.

Tighe Beck and Anthony Cecere both were hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second base. Matt Mercurio was unable to get a bunt down and wound up striking out. After a fly ball out to center field, Beck and Cecere pulled off a double steal to get into scoring position. Beck crossed the plate on a wild pitch by Gillis. A ground ball to second base ended the inning but the Warriors were in front 2-1.

Stackhouse retired Wilmington in order in the seventh inning as Wakefield won its fourth straight contest.

“We wanted to be aggressive against Gillis,” said Forbes. “We stole third base and second base. We wanted to be aggressive and we found a way to score. It’s a good win but we want to keep building on it.”

Wakefield posted its third consecutive victory on Monday morning against St. Mary’s of Lynn. The Warriors scored a run in the second and three runs in the fifth. The Spartans, meanwhile, got single tallies in the second, fifth and sixth innings.

Auld started the game and hurled five and a third innings giving up three runs (two earned) on five hits. The junior right-hander struck out seven, walked three and a hit a batter.

Stackhouse hurled an inning and two-thirds of relief. The southpaw gave up one hit and hit a batter.

The Warriors scored a run in the third which tied the game at 1-1 at the time. Smeglin (one hit) had a sacrifice fly ball which drove in Patti who had tripled.

St. Mary’s had a 2-1 lead when Wakefield tallied three more runs in the home half of the fifth inning. Corey Imbriano (two hits) and Beck (two hits) both singled and advanced on a wild pitch. Mercurio had a sac-fly to drive in a run and another wild pitch and ground out helped bring home the runs as Wakefield regained the lead.

The Spartans got one back in the sixth but it wasn’t enough.

Wakefield hosts Melrose tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. at Walsh Field as it will try to make it five victories in a row.