Published in the May 18, 2016 edition
By JIM SOUTHMAYD
WAKEFIELD — The Wakefield Memorial High baseball team not only clinched its second straight Middlesex League Freedom division championship, but it put an exclamation in the decisive game with senior right-hander Corey Imbriano throwing a no-hitter.
The Warriors wrapped up their second straight league championship with Imbriano being the star in Wakefield’s 3-0 triumph over rival Melrose yesterday afternoon at Walsh Field.
Imbriano, who improved his season record to 4-0, walked just one batter with two outs in the sixth otherwise he would have hurled a perfect game.
“Corey pitched a great game and it was a nice game to clinch the league championship,” said Coach Keith Forbes. “We won it for the second year in a row and I don’t think that has even been done (at WMHS). Corey missed last year pitching for us with a sore arm and it seems like he is on a mission this year. He gets better and better with each start.
“Melrose is a good team that I believe they will be in the state tournament. They can hit,” added Forbes. “Corey was in command of all of his pitches. He was painting both sides of the plate, inside and outside, with strikes. He had an awesome performance.”
Imbriano went all seven innings and faced just one batter over the minimum. The right-hander struck out 10 batters and walked just the one batter, Steve Guttadauro, in the top of the sixth after two were retired.
“I gave up that one walk and almost had a perfect game. I have never thrown a no-hitter before. I have always thrown a one or two hitter,” said Imbriano. “I began to realize it by the seventh that I haven’t let up a hit. My teammates were excited.
“I had everything working extra special today,” continued Imbriano. “My fastball had more velocity, my curveball dropped more and my slider had more of a cut. I just went out there and threw strikes. This is definitely more special because this was a league game against our rival and we won the league title.”
The Warriors increased their record to 14-2 overall and 12-2 in the M.L. Freedom division. With only two league games left, Wakefield can’t be caught by either Melrose or Burlington, who both have at least five losses in league play as it won the title outright.
Imbriano pitched against Wilmington last Thursday and it was supposed to be senior righty Andrew Auld’s turn in the rotation. But with four straight days off, the two senior pitchers asked Coach Forbes to switch their turns in the rotation so both wouldn’t face the same team again (Imbriano faced Burlington in the first half of the schedule while Auld pitched against Melrose). Forbes agreed and allowed Imbriano to pitch yesterday while Auld will pitch against Burlington this afternoon.
While Imbriano was hurling a gem, the Warrior offense did what it needed to do against Melrose right-hander John Casparriello. Wakefield had six hits against the right-hander who hurled a good game himself. Casparriello gave up three runs (two earned) on six hits while walking no one.
Wakefield scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning which was all it needed.
Paul McGunigle, a senior, lined a single into center field and stole second base. He scored on an RBI double to left-center field by Auld. Mike Guanci, a junior, reached on a throwing error by Ryan Censullo at shortstop as Auld crossed the plate.
The game remained 2-0 over the next five frames. Senior Matt Mercurio smacked a Casparriello offering off the pitcher’s leg for an infield hit in the third inning. Will Shea, a junior, reached on an error by Clark Watson at third base in the fourth but was forced on a grounder by senior Tighe Beck. McGunigle reached safely on an infield single to shortstop with two outs in the fifth and Mercurio singled to right field as well in the inning.
But Wakefield didn’t add an insurance run until the sixth inning to take a 3-0 advantage.
Guanci crushed a ball to third base for an infield single and moved up to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Shea. With Beck showing bunt and Watson charging in from third base, senior pinch-runner extraordinaire Matt Smith was able to steal third easily. Beck was unable to get the bunt down on the suicide squeeze and eventually struck out. But the ball was in the dirt and catcher Justin McCarthy had to come out from behind the plate to make the throw. After the throw was released and with no one covering the plate, Smith charged home and slid in safely before McCarthy could tag him out on the high throw from first base.
At that point, Imbriano needed to retire the next three batters. After getting two called third strikes, a pop up in foul ground at first base was snagged by Auld as the celebration began.
“We’re putting it together,” said Forbes. “We would like to be in the Super Eight (baseball tournament). With our pitching and defense, and if we can come up with the timely hits, I think we can play with anyone in the state.”
The Warriors get right back to work this afternoon at 3:45 p.m. when they take on Burlington at the Francis Wyman School Field in Burlington.