Published in the May 10, 2017 edition
By DAN PAWLOWSKI
LYNNFIELD – Lynnfield baseball kept its undefeated streak alive, winning three games last week to bring their record to 12-0 on the season. They continue to lead the large school Kinney Division of the Cape Ann League and remain the only undefeated team in the league.
The sun came out just in time at Lynnfield High School last Tuesday to shine on the biggest game of the year in the Cape Ann League. The undefeated Pioneers outlasted the undefeated Manchester-Essex Hornets 4-2.
Lynnfield’s senior ace Nicholas Aslanian gave up two runs in five and two-thirds innings against the Pioneers’ toughest opponent to date. Aslanian and the defense got plenty of big outs in high-pressure situations to stymie the Hornets.
Lynnfield took a 1-0 lead in the first inning after senior Kyle Hawes scored on a blooper off the bat of senior Bryant Dana.
Big third inning
The Pioneers put together a big third inning to add to their lead. Hawes and senior Justin Juliano had back-to-back walks with one out. Senior Mike Stellato ripped a base hit to left field, scoring Hawes from second base. Dana then gave right field some action with a base hit to score Juliano, giving the Pioneers a 3-0 lead after three innings.
Lynnfield added an insurance run in the fourth inning. Senior Michael Federico doubled to start the inning. Junior Joey Mack then put down a sacrifice bunt to move Federico to third base. Head coach John O’Brien then called for the squeeze. Federico split for home as sophomore Jonathan Luders put a bunt down the first base line. Federico scored easily, causing a big cheer from the Lynnfield dugout in what was easily the loudest run of the season.
“That squeeze was great baseball,” said O’Brien. “It turned out to be a pretty big insurance run we needed.”
Aslanian put the Hornets down in order in the fifth inning, but Manchester-Essex finally broke through in the sixth. After an RBI double, and a lengthy at bat that culminated in another run for the Hornets, O’Brien made the switch to sophomore southpaw Fernando Gonzalez, who inherited runners on first and second with two outs. Gonzalez got a huge strikeout to end the inning, and followed that up with two more K’s in the seventh to finish off the Hornets.
“That’s a nice difference of a guy throwing in the mid-70s (Aslanian) to a guy throwing in the mid 80s (Gonzalez),” added O’Brien. “That’s a nice mix. They work off each other very well.”
Best in CAL, qualify for states
It was a massive win for a Pioneer team that not only grabbed the lead for best team in the Cape Ann, but officially earned a spot in the state tournament. Even though there is plenty more to accomplish, the Pioneers earned the right to celebrate this moment.
“The kids were pumped to play today,” said O’Brien. “We’re in the state tournament which is a huge milestone for them. That’s our number one goal every year and we’ve done that, so congratulations to the kids, and to all of my coaches who have done a great job too.”
Beat Georgetown 9-6
Lynnfield went on the road last Wednesday to face a good Georgetown team which was looking to knock off the undefeated Pioneers. The Royals gave Lynnfield one of their toughest games of the season, but the Pioneers scored five runs in the fourth inning after trailing 6-4. Lynnfield never looked back, bringing their record to 11-0.
The Pioneers got a complete seven-inning effort from the whole team to beat Malden, 13-2, on Saturday at LHS. Hawes got the start for Lynnfield, pitching four innings of shutout baseball for the Pioneers.
Lynnfield jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Juliano and Dana each had an RBI single, and Hawes scored on a wild pitch.
Hawes then hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Andre Padovani in the second to make it 4-0 Lynnfield.
Stellato home run
Mike Stellato continued to hit the ball very well for the Pioneers as he tagged a line drive home run to left field in the third inning, giving Lynnfield a commanding 5-0 lead.
The Pioneers continued to pile on the runs, scoring five runs in the fourth inning, and three in the fifth. Senior Matthew Collins pitched the final three innings for the Pioneers and picked up two hits at the plate, earning a nod from his head coach and his teammates.
The Pioneers played another complete game offensively and defensively. Lynnfield is especially strong up the middle defensively starting with Dana, the catcher, Hawes, the center fielder, and Juliano, at shortstop, who coach O’Brien said has only committed one error the whole season.
“If he’s not the best shortstop in the league I don’t who is,” O’Brien said emphatically.
The Pioneers continue to succeed in large part because of the attitude and hard work of the senior class who continue to bring it every day, practice or game.
“We all play for each other, day-in and day-out,” said Stellato. “We’ve played with each other since we were 8-years-old, and this is the big year for us.”
“It’s a great senior class,” added O’Brien, who has his first 12-0 team since 2005. “The kids all work hard and keep the other guys hustling, which is what you need; you need some leaders.”
The Pioneers played at Triton on Tuesday after press time. They play Hamilton-Wenham on the road at Patton Park on Thursday and Pentucket at Lynnfield High School on Saturday at 10 a.m.