Published in the August 1, 2017 edition.

MELROSE — The Merchants and Americans squared off for the fourth and final time this season last night at Morelli Field. Wakefield came into the game with a 2-1 record against Melrose in the 2017 season, but the most important game between two rivals is always the last one. The Merchants refused to let the record books show that their matchups with the Americans this season ended in a stalemate.

It wasn’t easy.

After four innings, the Merchants led 11-3, all but sealing the final tilt, until the Americans put together an epic rally in the last half of the seventh, scoring eight runs, and forcing Merchants manager Dave Ellegood to bring in his ace, Joe Maguire, to close.

The Merchants’ Kyle McCarthy (1-1) pitched six solid innings, giving up three earned and striking out five. With an exhausted bullpen and a seemingly insurmountable lead, Ellegood kept McCarthy in through a tough seventh inning until he had no choice but to rely on Maguire to get three outs. McCarthy’s final stat line was 12 hits, 10 earned runs and five strikeouts over six innings.

Maguire gave up two hits and a run, but ultimately struck out the side to end the game in his third appearance against the Americans this year.

The real story for the Merchants was the offense scoring more runs than they have all season. Wakefield fans know to expect an offensive explosion at any time from the 2017 Merchants, and last night they got it in the second inning with five runs.

The Merchants put up two more in the third, four in the fourth, one in the fifth, and three, believe it or not, huge runs in the seventh.

Bobby Losanno continued to pace the top of the order, finishing three-for-five with an RBI. Joe Barry also had three hits and an RBI, Paul McGunigle had two hits and two RBIs, Mike Sorrentino had four hits and two RBIs, and Dillon Koster was the star of the game, going four-for-five with four RBIs including a home run, his first of the season.

After a quiet game against the Lexington Blue Sox on Sunday, it was certainly nice to hear the Wakefield bats make a ruckus at Morelli.

The win further pushed the Merchants toward a playoff appearance. Their 26 points puts them eight up on the Americans who are tied with the Reading Bulldogs and Somerville Royals for fifth in the ICL. With the top six teams making the playoffs, the Americans, Bulldogs and Royals will fight for the final two spots.

The Merchants have five games remaining. They head to Arlington to play the last-place Trojans tonight at 6:15 p.m, before coming back home to face the Royals on Wednesday, 6 p.m. at Walsh Field.