Published in the August 17, 2017 edition

THE DAYLIGHT lasted long enough for two outcomes to be decided in the Twi League championship series last night at Moulton Field. The Loafers took game one after completing the contest started on Monday night, while the Highlife took the following game two, 6-5, in six innings. Game three of the five-game series is tonight at 5:30 p.m. (Dan Pawlowski Photo)

THE DAYLIGHT lasted long enough for two outcomes to be decided in the Twi League championship series last night at Moulton Field. The Loafers took game one after completing the contest started on Monday night, while the Highlife took the following game two, 6-5, in six innings. Game three of the five-game series is tonight at 5:30 p.m. (Dan Pawlowski Photo)


WAKEFIELD— In the Twi League, it’s never over. That’s what came out of last night’s finals matchup between the Loafers and Highlife. On Monday, the two teams plated out eight innings of 6-6 baseball, and before game two could begin on Wednesday, they had to wrap up some unfinished business in game one.

The Highlife sent Anthony Caracciolo to the hill in the top of the ninth to face the Loafers bats and after getting the first batter without any issue, the pitcher from Stoneham surrendered a single, a walk, and back to back doubles, plating two runs. The big blow came when Connor O’Brien sent a screaming line drive one-hop off the left field fence. Caracciolo came back and got Matt Russo to ground out to first and Taylor Robinson to go down on strikes to hold the Loafers to just two runs.

In the bottom of the ninth, Garrett Cole took the mound for the Loafers, and after retiring the first two batters of the inning, he ran into some trouble. With two down, Jason Federico ripped a double to left and came home when the next batter, Eric DiTonno singled him home. DiTonno used some heads-up base running to move into scoring position by swiping second. Cole got the final batter of the inning to go down on strikes and end the threat from the Highlife while winning game one, 8-7 and taking a 1-0 series lead.

All that went down in just under 30 minutes, so there was plenty of daylight to begin game two, but would there be a conclusion? The teams wasted no time, with neither team making any changes to the lineup, and the top of the first in game two was underway before 6 p.m.

Cole got the Highlife batters to go down in order in the first inning, hardly running into a hiccup.

Caracciolo got back out on the mound for the Highlife in the bottom of the first and despite a one-out single followed by a walk, Caracciolo got the last two batters to retire meekly with a fielder’s choice ground ball and a pop fly to right.

In the top of the second, Caracciolo led-off with a walk, but Cole was helped out by the pitcher’s best friend, a 4-6-3 double play, followed by a strikeout to end the inning with no damage.

The Loafers got on the board in the bottom of the second, after Caracciolo struck out the first batter looking, a walk to Joe Galli started the rally. Following the base-on-balls, Matt Smith ripped a single, then Alex Jansey singled to bring Galli around to score the game’s first run.

Caracciolo got Pavey and O’Brien to groundout ending the inning allowing just the one run.

Cole now took the mound with a 1-0 lead, but the Life threatened to get the run right back as Tommy Sheeran led the top of the third off with a triple to deep left. Next up, Twi League veteran Mark Sullivan had a chance to tie it at one, as he lined a hot shot to third base. They don’t call it the hot corner for nothing, as Alex Jansey made a fine play to stab the line drive for the first out, sending Sheeran scrambling back to the bag to avoid being doubled off. With the Highlife catcher gone, there was one out, but Sullivan would get another chance later in the game.

Cole settled down after Sullivan nearly tied the game and got the next batter to strikeout and the final out came when Anthony Cecere flew out to deep left.

Still down a run to start the top of the third inning, Caracciolo worked around a leadoff hit batsman and a one-out walk to strand two base runners and get his team back in only down one.

Cole was in a groove in the top of the fourth and worked around a one-out walk to strike out the side.

Caracciolo ran into trouble in the bottom of the fourth as Smith and Jansey led off with a pair of walks. Jared Pavey was next to bat, and cleared the bases with a two-run triple. The next batter, O’Brien, grounded out to shortstop with the infield in on the grass, preventing the run from coming home. Russo grounded out to first and there was two away as Cole stepped into the batter’s box. Cole ripped a two-out line drive base hit to left, scoring Pavey easily, but the play was far from over. In typical Moulton field fashion the ball took a wild bounce like it hit some concrete and looped right over Cliff Silva’s head in left field, allowing Cole to circle the bases, winding up at 3rd with a triple. After James Beaton was hit by a pitch, he stole second, making it second and third with two outs. Caracciolo got Galli to ground out to second to end the inning, but the damage had been done. After plating four runs in the inning, the Loafers led 5-0.

Chris Dettorre led the top of the fifth off with a walk for the Highlife, then moved to second on a wild pitch, and stole third all with the second batter of the inning, Tommy Sheeran, still at the plate.

Sheeran then lifted a pitch to deep left-center, plenty deep enough for Dettore to tag up and score easily. Cole rebounded to strikeout Sullivan and Vezga to end the inning after just one run.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Highlife made a pitching change, calling on one of the most veteran Twi League players, Mike Day to face some eager young bats. After retiring the first batter, Day surrendered a base hit to Jansey followed by a single by Pavey. Day fought back and struck O’Brien out for the inning’s second out. With two down, the base-runners executed a double steal, moving up to second and third with Matt Russo at the plate. Russo made a good bid, launching a fly ball to center field, but Cecere showed his range in tracking down the inning’s third out.

With daylight running out, the Loafers made a call to the bullpen to start the sixth inning, a move they might regret in hindsight as Taylor Robinson came in to pitch from centerfield. Robinson got to face the top of the Highlife order, and things were rocky from the beginning.

Robinson issued a leadoff walk to Cecere followed by a single to Federico. Both runners would come home on a two RBI base hit for Eric DiTonno to make it 5-3. Caracciolo flew out to left for the first out of the sixth, then Silva was hit by a pitch to make it first and second with one out. A Chris Detorre seeing-eye-single loaded the bases for Tommy Sheeran, who repeated his output from his last AB with his 2nd sac fly of the game, playing DiTonno to make it 5-4. Next up, Mark Sullivan got a chance to redeem himself after he was robbed of an RBI and a chance to tie the game in the third inning. The KC Slammer came through in the clutch, as Sullivan launched a triple to deep centerfield, clearing the bases and giving the Highlife a 6-5 lead. Robinson sent Vezga back to the bench on strikes for the third time in the game ending the inning, but the Life had taken the lead.

Incredibly, there was determined to be enough daylight still to continue. As 7:30 p.m. came and went, the Highlife took the field for the bottom of the sixth.

The Highlife made yet another call to the bullpen, bringing in rookie right-hander, fresh out of high school, John Evangelista. The former Wakefield Warriors class of 2017 standout took the hill and surrendered a leadoff walk to his counterpart Robinson, who stole second early in the next at bat.

The next batter, Kevin Loveless flew out to center for the inning’s first out. Evangelista then got James Beaton to go down swinging and Joe Galli to retire, stranding Robinson at second base.

At this point, after six complete innings, the umpires called a halt to the game securing the 6-5 decision for the Highlife.

Mike Day gets the decision in game two taking the win for the Highlife, with Taylor Robinson saddled with the loss and blown save for the Loafers. Evangelista picked up the save and the series is tied at 1-1 with game three set to be played at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday back at Moulton Field.