Published in the April 26, 2017 edition
By DAN PAWLOWSKI
LYNNFIELD – The Lynnfield Pioneers continued their impressive start to the baseball season with a 6-3 win over the Rockport Vikings Saturday morning at Lynnfield High School. The Pioneers are now 7-0 on the season and 6-0 in Cape Ann League play.
Lynnfield senior co-captain Nicholas Aslanian pitched a complete game with just 70 pitches, working quickly through some rain that was just as stubborn as Rockport’s lineup.
The game was over in about 90 minutes much to the delight of a certain reporter who forgot his umbrella. According to Lynnfield head coach John O’Brien, Aslanian’s starts average about 80 minutes, which has earned him a reputation of working fast, but also staying focused and throwing strikes. Rockport didn’t record a hit against the southpaw until the fourth inning when they rallied to score two runs, but per usual, Aslanian moved on and finished the game strong.
Lynnfield’s Jonathan Luders was hit by a pitch to lead off the game, and ended up at third base after two passed balls. The sophomore later scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of senior co-captain Justin Juliano, giving Lynnfield a 1-0 lead after one.
Luders was a terror on the basebaths again in the third inning as he doubled to left and then promptly stole third base. Lynnfield senior Kyle Hawes then skied a triple to right, giving Lynnfield a 2-0 lead. Hawes then decided to take Lynnfield’s third run into his own hands, stealing home as the Rockport catcher lobbed the ball back to starting pitcher James Parisi.
After Rockport scored two in the fourth inning to make it 3-2, Lynnfield went to work on providing some insurance for Aslanian. After a Luders single and a Hawes ground rule double, Juliano singled for his second and third RBI of the day, making it 5-2 Pioneers.
Clutch catch by Hawes
Hawes then provided the defensive play of the day with a diving catch in center field. It is this kind of defense, complete with excellent pitching, that explains why the Pioneers have the best runs against average in the Cape Ann League and haven’t given up more than three runs in any game.
Lynnfield junior Cooper Marengi’s RBI single knocked Rockport’s Parisi out of the game in the sixth inning. Aslanian took care of the rest, striking out the last Viking batter of the day.
O’Brien was quick to describe it as another team win. “The guys are picking each other up. Kyle Hawes had another great game in centerfield, great catch, big triple, stole four bases. Every game it seems to be a different two or three guys stepping up, which is good; that’s the sign of a good team.”
Sting the Hornets 6-2 in extra innings
Lynnfield beat North Reading 6-2 in eight innings at Carey Park last Thursday. Hornets’ starter Mike McCauley held the Pioneers scoreless until senior Mike Federico hit a two-run double in the top of the sixth.
“North Reading pitched very well,” said O’Brien. “(McCauley) kept us off balance, but we started to grind out some good at-bats. The two runs they got were unearned so we felt like we were playing even with them.”
The Pioneers would go on (went on) to score four runs in the eighth inning, including junior Joey Mack’s sacrifice fly to break the tie, a two-run double from Luders, and an RBI triple from Hawes.
Lynnfield sophomore Fernando Gonzalez pitched a complete game, throwing 100 pitches in an impressive performance to help the Pioneers win their first of two matchups against their rivals. “Fernando pitched great. He seemed to pick up some steam as the game went on and he finished very strong,” commented O’Brien.
Clip Newburyport 7-2
The Pioneers beat Newburyport 7-2 on Tuesday, April 18 at home. Lynnfield jumped on the Clippers early, scoring four runs in the first inning and two in the second inning. Senior Kyle Hawes allowed one earned run and gave up three hits in five innings for the Pioneers.
Beat Masco, Pentucket
Lynnfield beat Pentucket 6-2 at Groveland Pines on Thursday, April 13. Two days later they upended Masconomet 6-3 at home. After their most recent win against Rockport on Saturday, O’Brien credited Lynnfield’s upperclassmen for their 7-0 start to the season.
“I’m very happy with the way the seniors have led and played. We have a real good group of seniors and a real good group of captains,” he said.
Despite the perfect record, O’Brien knows there is plenty of room for improvement and a lot of baseball left to be played, but Lynnfield fans should be excited about this year’s team.
“It’s been good so far,” added O’Brien. “But we got a long way to go, and a lot of good teams we still have to play.”
The Pioneers played Hamilton-Wenham on Tuesday, April 25 (after press time). They’ll host Amesbury on Thursday, April 27 at the Lynnfield High School Athletic Complex. Game time is 3:45 p.m.
On Saturday, April 29 at noon, everyone is invited to cheer on the Pioneers as they compete in the Pete Frates Tournament to help defeat Lou Gehrig’s Disease or ALS, at Fraser Field in Lynn. The Pioneers are slated to take on the Ipswich Tigers.