JOE MAGUIRE wasn’t 100 percent on Wednesday against the Bulldogs, but Wakefield’s ace fought through, getting a complete-game win, his fifth of the season. Maguire scattered nine hits, gave up no walks and three earned runs while fanning five. (Donna Larsson File Photo)

Published in the July 27, 2018 edition.


WAKEFIELD — With the summer rolling along, the Merchants were back in action over at Walsh Field on Wednesday as they hosted the Reading Bulldogs in an Intercity League matchup.

With Joe Maguire on the hill, the Merchants have been a pretty good bet to come out victorious this year, and that was the case on Wednesday as the Peabody native got the ball again.

Maguire went the full seven innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on nine hits, while surrendering zero walks and striking out four batters.

Reading managed to take the lead in the top of the first as Maguire recorded the first out of the game with a strikeout, then the next man reached on an error. A bit of first inning command issues plagued Maguire as a wild pitch resulted in the first run.

That would all go away as Maguire held Reading in check, not allowing a runner to reach second base again until the 5th inning.

Meanwhile, the Merchants got the run right back, and staked their man to a two-run lead with a three-run 1st inning.

Leadoff man Bobby Losanno got aboard with a single, but was cut down trying to steal second. Scott Searles worked a walk, then Dillon Koster singled him up to second. Ryan Collins loaded the bases with a single. Chris Butler went down on strikes before Wakefield native Paul McGunigle cleared the bases with a two-out, three-RBI double.

Maguire’s counterpart for Reading, Cam Lanzilli would similarly settle down in the middle innings and keep the Merchants off the bases and without a scoring threat until the 5th inning.

In the top of the 5th, Reading had the first three men reach and knocked in a run before there was an out recorded in the inning. Johnny Hayes doubled and Andrew Moccia singled to score him. Then Luke Hall singled to make it 1st and 3rd before Moccia came in to score on an RBI groundout. After the first three men reached safely, Maguire got the next three to ground out and escaped the threat with only two runs going up on the board.

Wakefield came back and scored three times in their half of the 5th inning to take a commanding 6-3 lead. Like Reading, Wakefield’s first three batters reached base, loading the bases. Mike Manoogian got things started with a single, followed by a Losanno single, and another walk by Searles. Lanzilli got Koster to ground out, but Ryan Collins lifted a sac-fly to center to score a run. Following Collins’ RBI fly-out, Lanzilli’s command betrayed him. A wild pitch and a passed ball resulted in a pair of Merchants runs, making it 6-3 in favor of Wakefield.

In the 6th, Reading got their leadoff man aboard with a single, then a costly error by the second baseman allowed a run in to make it 6-4.

With Wakefield failing to extend the lead in the bottom of the 6th, Maguire headed back out for the final inning with a two-run lead. Reading once again formulated a threat, getting runners at the corners with two outs before Maguire got the final batter to strike out to end the game.

The win puts Maguire’s record at 5-2 this year for the Merchants as they improve their record to 13-8-1 on the season, still three points back of Lexington and Watertown.

On Maguire’s gutsy performance, Merchants Manager Dave Ellegood said,“He’s been sick all week, I called him this morning, he told me he was good to go tonight. He battled, we made some mistakes, but they made some mistakes too,” Ellegood said. “It was one of those battles you just have to grind it out.”

The impact it has on the standings is not lost on Ellegood.

“Big win, especially against Reading with the playoff picture, that’s a huge game,” he said.

Ellegood felt the turning point came early in this game, as the Merchants got ahead early.

“Paul McGunigle had a huge three-run double, he’s been clutching up all year for us,” he said of the former Wakefield Warrior.

Ellegood continued his cometary saying, “It’s just a Wednesday night game, by six o’clock everyone’s tired, it’s nice to get the two points.”

Ellegood added, “That puts us in great shape playoff wise. We have six games to go. At Malden on Friday night we need to take care of business. We’re trying to sneak into that 2nd seed and maybe get a bye. We’ll go from there.”

He knows these are the dog days and reaching down to find that extra energy before the playoffs is a struggle.

“It’s tough to get energy. Reading battles, they just kept coming back, every inning they had guys on. That’s Reading though, it’s like playing a Middlesex League team here, and we’re 3-0-1 against them this year.”

With just six games left, every game is going to be big down the stretch. Next on the docket, they take on the Mad Dogs on Friday at 7:30 at Maplewood Park in Malden.