Published June 19, 2019


LOWELL — A big, four-run third inning powered the Lynnfield Pioneer baseball team to a 6-3 win over Gloucester at LeLacheur Park on Wednesday, June 12.

Down by one run in the top of the third, Will Garofoli drove in two with a single, Matt Fiore brought in Fernando Gonzalez with a single, and Luke Martinho stole home following a wild pitch with the bases loaded. With the win, the Pioneers advanced to the Div. 3 North finals.

“Our kids came to play tonight,” said Lynnfield head coach John O’Brien. “We played terrific defense; some timely hitting; Got the bat on the ball, and our two pitchers were outstanding … (Jaret) Simpson played terrific. Called a great game. We don’t call any of our pitches, the kids do everything.”

Starting pitcher Clayton Marengi tossed five and two-thirds innings for the Pioneers and surrendered three runs. Garofoli relieved Marengi in the bottom of the fifth after a double by Gloucester’s Lucas Melanson drove in two runs. Garafoli took care of business from there on out and ended the game with a 1-2-3 seventh that saw three straight Gloucester batters ground out, ground out, and fly out.

WILL GAROFOLI had all his pitches working against Gloucester in the Div. 3 North semifinals at LeLacheur Park in Lowell. The senior entered in the 5th and held on to a lead he helped gain at the plate with a two-RBI base hit. (Dan Pawlowski File Photo)

Playing on the Lowell Spinners’ home turf, which O’Brien called “a great thrill for the kids,” and knowing that one more win would catapult them into the North finals, O’Brien said that there were nerves coming into the game, but it seemed the four runs in the third quelled whatever butterflies may have been left.

Two consecutive Pioneer batters were walked to begin the top of the third. Two batters later, Singer was walked by Gloucester’s starter Zach Abbott, loading the bases. Martinho stole home two batters later following a wild pitch. Gonzalez walked, again loading the bases to set up Garafoli, who drove in Brian Cardarelli and Singer with a single to make the score 3-1 Lynnfield. Fiore continued the offensive barrage by ripping the ball to left field for a single, bringing in Gonzalez.

O’Brien said that plate discipline was the key to the big third inning.

“We’ve worked on that in practice quite a bit and it seems to have paid off because sometimes we chase. Early in the year, we had a little streak in the middle that maybe—towards the middle of the year, we were swinging at bad pitches and now we’re swinging at good pitches.”

Gloucester was the first to score in the second inning when Lucas Melanson, having already stolen second and third, took home after a wild pitch by Marengi with the bases loaded. Marengi got out of the jam with the next at-bat, getting a flyout from E.J. Field.

Gloucester put some pressure on the Pioneers with its two-run fifth, but Lynnfield was quick to extend its cushion, tacking on two runs of its own in the top of the sixth. With one out, Cardarelli dropped a single into shallow right-center, sending Martinho to second. The next at-bat, Jonathan Luders fouled off a pitch down the first base line that was caught for an out. Martinho tagged and barreled over the third baseman, who couldn’t corral the throw after the contact, and Martinho scored. Then, Singer shot a dribbler down the third base line for a double, driving in Cardarelli to make it 6-3.

Garofoli kept Gloucester at bay in the sixth and seventh, getting two with strikes, two with fly-balls, and two with grounders for the final six outs needed.

“It’s a nice game,” said O’Brien. “That’s a heck of a team right there. They came right back at us but credit to my kids, they got a couple of more runs and we were lucky enough that (Garofoli) came in and shut the door.”