By DAN PAWLOWSKI
WAKEFIELD — The Unknowns inched closer to securing a Twi League playoff spot by sweeping their regular season match up with the Loafers 8-6 at Moulton Park, Monday night.
A 14-hit barrage against Loafer pitching was led by Brandon Panarese, Brett Maloney, Geoff Ericksen, Brendan Coughlin and the hot hitting Bryan Butt, who all chipped in with two hits each. Tom Caron picked up the win and Maloney got the save.
The Loafers jumped out to an early lead in the first inning when James Beaton reached on a fielder’s choice and Dom Sorrentino followed with a double to the gap that allowed Beaton to score from first base off Unknowns’ starting pitcher Scott Elwell.
The Orange took the lead back in the bottom of the second inning. Luke Martin scorched a line drive to right center field for a stand up triple. Elwell knocked him in with a ground out to second base. Butt continued his torrid hitting, pulling a single to right field. Up stepped Coughlin who unleashed a mammoth shot to the deep left center gap, only the tree stopped it from being a homer, as Coughlin sped in to third base with the RBI triple, scoring Butt to put the Orange up 2-1.
The Loaf finally figured out Elwell in the third inning. Rookie Brendan Rechia slapped a single down the third base line for a hit. Beaton followed with a hit past Coughlin at first base. Sorrentino continued the hit parade collecting his second hit of the game, knocking in Rechia. Justin Sencabaugh loaded the bases when he was plunked by an Elwell pitch. Caron came in for relief of Elwell and served up a Joe Galli base knock that plated Beaton and Sorrentino. The Loaf weren’t done yet. Kevin Deleary dropped a double to center field, scoring Galli to put the Loaf up 6-2.
The Question marks responded by taking over the game in the fourth inning. Caron led off with a bloop hit to center field. Butt followed by pulling a sharp hit ball to second and reached base on the errant throw by the second baseman. After a strikeout, Sean Alexander ripped a single to left field, scoring Caron. Panarese, finding his hitting stroke, poked a single to left center field, knocking in “Wub” Power, pinch running for Butt. Maloney then walloped a missile to left center field off of Loafer starter Joe Sorrento, scoring Alexander and Panarese to tie the game at 6-6, before being tagged out at third base on a close call. Eriksen followed up that blast with a blast of his own to right center field for a triple and scrambled home on a wild pitch to put the Orange up 7-6.
In the top of the fifth inning, the Loaf mounted a comeback. Caron got the first batter, but Nick Raimo singled after that. Deleary then lined a come backer off Caron’s glove that Maloney picked up at second base and got the force out. Pinch hitter Matt Russo then sliced a single to left and Connor O’Brien followed Russo with a single to left to load the bases. Coach Ian Power called on his closer Maloney to extinguish the Loafer threat and he got Rechia to ground out to end the inning.
The Unknowns would tack on an important extra run in the bottom of the fifth inning as Run Differential runs are a Twi League tie breaker. Elwell walked and moved to second base on another Bryan Butt single. The daring Elwell, stole third base and scored as the throw from the catcher sailed into left field to put the Orange up by two runs.
Maloney closed the sixth inning for the Unknowns and punctuated it with a strikeout before the Twi curfew kicked in.
The second place Brewers topped the first place Slappers 5-4 at Moulton last night while the Loafers beat the Highlife 3-0 at Walsh in a game that sealed the fate of both teams’ playoff hopes as the Loaf will make it to the postseason while the Life will join the Expos as the two teams who won’t make it.
The Brewers will have a chance to tie the Slappers for first when they play the Highlife tonight, 5:45 p.m. at Moulton. The Unknowns and Slappers will wrap up the regular season tomorrow night, 5:45 p.m. at Moulton.