After splitting play this week, Melrose needs 1 win
Published May 31, 2019
By BEN PAINCHAUD
MELROSE—The Melrose High baseball team’s quest for win number ten of the season was prolonged by Burlington on Monday, May 27, with the Red Devils shutting out the Red Raiders 3-0 at Shawsheen Valley Technical High School. Melrose couldn’t capitalize on solid offensive opportunities in back-to-back innings late in the game, leaving runners on second and third in the fifth and seeing come up empty-handed at the plate in the sixth.
Although it seemed Melrose had missed its chance to climb back into the game after the sixth, senior catcher Liam Crovo said that the Red Raiders believed they were in it until the very end. “We always battle back late in games,” said Crovo. “We always have a big inning later in games, so it wasn’t really that—I mean, it definitely hurt a little bit but we weren’t out at that point.”
Burlington’s Nicholas Pye pitched a complete game and allowed only two hits, one of which was the result of a fumble by his shortstop during a potential turn-two play. Teammate Ryan O’Holloran went 2-2 with an RBI.
“We didn’t adjust,” said Melrose head coach Scott Searles. “[Pye] was working the outer half of the plate and throwing the curveball and, I’ve been telling these guys, I’ve been stressing: We’re good at hitting hitters’ pitches. We’re not great at hitting a pitcher’s pitch, when the pitcher’s on.”
Harry Kelley pitched all six of Melrose’s defensive stands. Crovo believed “he looked good today, hitting his spots all over the place and was just keeping the ball low.”
In the top of the seventh, Kelley, hitting in the cleanup spot, flew out to center, and the next batter, Cam Gorman, was struck out looking. Cole Lepler then took the plate and wound up with a two-strike count before being hit by a pitch too far inside, giving the Melrose dugout hope. Dillon Kaliris subbed in for Zach Maguire at the plate in the next at-bat and struck out looking at a breaking ball that seemed outside the strike zone to the right of the plate, but was called anyway, giving Burlington the win.
The Red Raiders’ first real opportunity to come back in the fifth was set up by the same circumstance of Lepler being hit by a pitch. Lepler advanced to second the next at-bat when Burlington’s shortstop muffed the second baseman’s toss in an effort to turn two, following a grounder hit by Maguire.
Pye tried to pick off Lepler at second, but the ball sailed wide and into the outfield, bringing Maguire to second and Lepler to third. Kevin Nickerson flew out to right after that, however, ending the inning. An inning later, the first three batters of Melrose’s lineup—Matt McDonough, Matt Morrisey, and Liam Crovo—grounded out, grounded out, and flew out, respectively.
The loss came a day after the Red Raiders beat Gloucester, 6-2. It was a win that ultimately keeps them in the playoff hunt.
Hurler Brandon McSorley had a big day on the mound, giving up no runs for Melrose on 4 hits with 3 strikeouts in 5 innings. Colby Moss came in for relief and shut the door on the Fisherman.
Melrose was coming off a loss in their double-header, so the win was critical. Says coach Searles, “That’s the best offensive team we’ve seen all year, and you cannot be out over the plate with them. We discussed our plan and Brandon went out there and nailed it. He was lights out. I can’t say enough about his effort against a really good offensive team.”
Melrose took a quick 2-0 lead and scored four runs in the 6th to make it 6-0 before Gloucester added 2 in the 7th. Offensively, Liam Crovo, Cole Lepler, Matt Morrissey and Harry Kelley all had two hits a piece. “Those four guys have really been swinging the bat will lately they all did a great job putting the barrel on it,” says their coach.
This week Melrose picks up from a previously-played game against Wilmington at home on Thursday (post deadline). Melrose will play two games against the Wildcats, their first will resume tied 7-7 in the 6th, and the unplayed game will commence after. Winning one will get them into playoffs.
“We have to get at least one of those two to qualify,” says Searles. “But as I told the kids all year, we have to focus one pitch at a time, one at bat at a time. Hopefully we can finish out the first one and take the pressure off.”
Should Melrose seal the deal, seedings will be release on Tuesday, June 4. Fans are encouraged to visit www.miaa.net or visit our social media pages.
Ben Painchaud can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Ben_Painchaud.