Published in the August 10, 2017 edition.
By DAN BYRNE
WAKEFIELD– The Loafers are headed to the Twi League Finals after winning the second and third games of their semi-final round matchup with the
Game two picked up on Wednesday after play was suspended after six innings on Monday. With the score tied 5-5, the remainder of the game would be played out on Wednesday.
In the top of the seventh, the Brewers didn’t get anything going off Loafer’s pitcher Garrett Cole, going quietly in order. That brought up the Loafers to face Brewers’ pitcher Tom Leahy.
Matt Smith led off the bottom of the 7th with a sinking liner that got down and rolled by Zach Thomas, allowing Smith to circle the bases, ending up on third with a triple.
After a walk, Leahy got Jared Pavey to pop to second base for the first out. That brought up Connor O’Brien with runners at second and third with one out. Leahy got ahead in the count, but O’Brien hung in there, eventually lining a base hit to right to score Smith, giving the loafers a quick win in game two, evening the series at one game apiece.
With daylight at a premium, the teams wasted no time setting the lineups and taking the field for the decisive game three to follow.
The pitchers and lineups stayed the same, more or less, with Leahy and Cole taking each taking the ball to start game three for their respective teams.
Leahy suffered a one-out walk in the first, but got the benefit of three ground ball outs, and escaped the first inning unscathed.
The Brewers got out ahead in the bottom of the first with a pair of doubles to left by John Halsey and Matt Fiore to break the ice. A single by Mike Fiore followed the back-to-back doubles, scoring his brother to make it 2-0. Cole got out of the inning with a fielder’s choice and a strike-out.
The Loafers came back and went ahead in the top of the second with a two-out rally. After the first two batters grounded out, Leahy hit Matt Smith with a pitch, giving them a base runner. Alex Jansey followed up with a fly ball to right field that was misplayed in the outfield and turned into runners on second and third.
Leahy got the next batter, Kevin Loveless to ground to shortstop, but the Brewers couldn’t make the out and the inning continued. Next up, Jared Pavey singled in a run and O’Brien followed with a fielder’s choice. The big blow in the inning came when Matt Russo cleared the bases with a double. When all was said and done the Loafers had scored five times in the second inning to take a 5-2 lead.
Cole settled in for the bottom of the inning, striking out the side in order and preserving the lead.
Leahy had a much better third inning, getting the Loafers to go quietly 1-2-3, with three fly ball outs.
Back to the top of the order for the Brewers, Tim Hurley led-off the third with a strikeout, but the Brewers threatened to put something together after Halsey and Matt Fiore had back-to-back singles. Cole got out of the jam by inducing Mike Fiore to ground into a double play.
On to the top of the fourth where Leahy found his groove. He got the Loafers to go down in order for the second straight inning, holding the deficit at three runs.
Cole was equally as effective at shutting down the Brewers bats, as he surrendered a one-out single to Mike Greer in the bottom of the fourth, but the Brewers bats couldn’t bring him around as Leahy popped out and Thomas grounded to third.
The Loafers added a run in the fifth after Leahy surrendered a one-out walk to Pete Beaton and he came around to score following a throwing error. Leahy struck out Jansey to end the inning after allowing just one unearned run.
Now trailing by four runs, and heading to the bottom of the fifth, the Brewers needed to get some runs on the board and they were about to do so. Andrew Patti led the inning off with a deep double that one-hopped the fence in left-center. After a groundout moved the runner to third base, Halsey knocked him in with an RBI single. After a groundout to first base moved Halsey into scoring position with two outs, he came around on a base hit by Mike Fiore. Fiore advanced on the throw and came in to score himself after DiRuzza’s two-out single. Cole came back to strikeout Greer, ending the inning, but not before the Brewers scored three times and cut the lead to one at 6-5.
The Loafers didn’t let the Brewers hang around, and after having their lead slashed to just one, they responded with some more two-out magic. Leahy retired the first two batters without any threat with a strikeout and a groundout. With two down, O’Brien reached on a base hit and Russo followed with a walk. That brought Pete Beaton to the plate with two on and two out. Leahy got ahead in the count, but Beaton took a two-strike pitch to deep centerfield. The ball sailed over Thomas’ head and rolled towards the triangle. Beaton could all but walk around the bases, as three runs came in on his four-bagger. Leahy got the final out to fly to left but the damage had been done and after five and a half, the Brewers trailed 9-5.
That would be all the runs the Loafers would need, as the Brewers went down in order in their half of the sixth.
Brian Millea came in to pitch the top of the seventh for the Brewers. The game one starter didn’t allow a run on two hits, as he was helped by the benefit of a line drive double play.
Mike Coombs led off the seventh for the Brewers but failed to reach base. Halsey followed with a single and moved up on a Matt Fiore ground-out. Mike Fiore knocked in Halsey with a two-out single, but Brian DiRuzza grounded back to the pitcher for the game’s final out.
With the final out recorded the Loafers could celebrate their 9-6 triumph, knocking off the Twi League’s top-seeded team and earning a place in the finals.
The victory for the Loafers means they await the winner of game three between the Highlife and Expos, to be played at 5:45 p.m. at Moulton Field tonight.