MELROSE — The Melrose Americans advanced to the Intercity League’s semifinal series with a 10-1 play-in victory over the Reading Bulldogs on Tuesday at Morelli Field.
No. 4 Melrose will now take on the top-seeded Lexington Blue Sox in a best of three series. Game one took place on Wednesday followed by game two on Thursday, both after press time. A game three, if necessary, would take place tonight, Friday, 8 p.m. at Lexington High.
The Blue Sox have been Intercity League champions for the last six seasons.
The Bulldogs gave Melrose an early scare with one run in the top of the 1st on Tuesday night, but the Americans bounced right back with two runs in the bottom half to take the lead for good.
Turns out, that was all Melrose ace Chris Mitchell would need.
Mitchell left no doubts that he was the best pitcher in the ICL this year with a top-two 1.79 earned run average while tossing the third most innings of the year (39). He led the league in wins with six.
On Tuesday, Mitchell went six innings, scattering five hits, striking out eight and walking just two. The lone run he allowed was unearned.
As the Americans added three in the 2nd, two in the 4th and three more in the 5th, they cruised to an exciting playoff win with Ronnie Luke pitching the final frame, allowing no runs and one hit while fanning one.
Melrose racked up nine hits and seven RBI.
Leading the charge from the clean-up spot was Gianni Zarrilli who went 2-for-3 with three RBI, a walk and two runs scored.
Jack Beverly had two hits and two RBI. Cory Bright added two hits, an RBI and three runs scored.
Pat Costigan, the hits leader in the ICL with 31 this season, got on base twice with a walk and a hit, scored twice and added an RBI.
Jackson Stanton also added two knocks from the number nine spot.
The Americans know they have their hands full against a Lexington squad that went 16-9 in the regular season to take first place by two games over the second place Middlesex Expos (14-11) who will be competing in the other semifinal series against the 3rd place Andre Chiefs (12-12).
The Blue Sox surprisingly didn’t lead the league in any offensive team statistics.
Their pitching also wasn’t as complete as say the Expos or Chiefs. Of course, as always, the Blue Sox are naturally the favorites to win it all, but the regular season numbers say between the final four teams, anyone has a chance.
To find results of Wednesday and Thursday’s playoff games, visit: www.intercityleaguebaseball.com.