First playoff victory in 16 years sends Wakefield to No.1 Whittier Tech today

THE WARRIORS are moving on to the Div. 2 North quarterfinals for the first time since 2003 when they made a run to the North sectional championship game. No. 8 Wakefield will travel to No. 1 Whittier Tech today at 4 p.m. (Dan Pawlowski File Photo)

Published in the June 10, 2019 edition.


WAKEFIELD—Sixteen years is a long time to wait for anything, but for the Wakefield Memorial High School baseball team who had not won a tournament game in over a decade, the wait would come to an end on Friday as the Warriors topped Greater Lawrence Technical School 13-5 at Walsh Field.

Warriors’ head coach Kevin Canty gave Gabe Sanders the ball to start the game, but the seniors captain was knocked out of the game early by the Reggies.

Sanders allowed a leadoff walk to shortstop Sergio Aquino, followed by a double to Reggies’ right fielder Franklin Espinal. A two-run single to first baseman Yonel Torres saw the Warriors manager turn to the bullpen, calling upon sophomore Chris Alden to take the mound.

Alden quickly induced a pair of fielder’s choices and then struck out center fielder Chris Frica to end the threat with the minimal damage of just two runs.

In the bottom of the first, Sanders, who remained in the game at short, led off the inning with a fly out to left field, followed by a walk to designated hitter Cal Tryder. Centerfielder Tommy Mottl flew out to left for the inning’s second out. With the inning nearing an end, Erich Hickey laced a screamer to center, which was misplayed in the outfield allowing Tryder to come around to score and make it 2-1 on the error, with Hickey in safely at second.
First baseman Danny Hurley hit into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.

With the lead cut in half, Alden headed back out to the mound for the 2nd inning, where he was completely dominant, striking out the 7th, 8th, and 9th batters in the Reggies’ order. It was a quick inning in the field that led to the big inning at the dish for the Warriors.

In the bottom of the 2nd, Wakefield took a commanding lead, sending 10 batters to the plate and scoring six runs.

It all started with Chris Coombs getting hit by a pitch to lead things off. Then Scott Elwell singled, and Anthony DeVito sacrifice bunted them into scoring position. Zach Kent reach on an error to load the bases, as Gabe Sanders stepped up.

With nowhere to put him, the Warrior shortstop launched a double over the left fielder’s head clearing the bases. Sanders came home when the next batter, Tryder reached on an error by the second baseman. Tryder was then caught stealing for the inning’s second out with Mottl at the plate. Mottl worked a walk, and came home to score when Hickey sent a ball sailing over the outfield, bringing him into third with a triple. Hickey came in to score the inning’s sixth run on an RBI single by Hurley. A groundout to short by Coombs finally ended the inning, but the Warriors led 7-2 after the 2nd.

Alden struck out the leadoff man in the 3rd inning, giving him four straight strikeouts, but then he ran into some trouble in the form of two singles and a walk, leading to the Reggies’ third run. Alden settled down and got a fly out to left and a grounder to first to end the inning.

Wakefield got the first three men to reach safely in their half of the 3rd inning with an Elwell single and a Devito walk. Kent meant to sacrifice once again, but an error on the pitcher led to Elwell coming in to score the Warriors’ eighth run. Devito came in to score the ninth run, as Sanders, Tryder, and Mottl went down in order to end the inning.

Alden retired the side in order in the 4th and the Reggies would only record one more hit from that point forward.

A pair of runs came in for Greater Lawrence in the top of the 5th after Canty pulled Alden from the game with a commanding 11-3 lead.

A one out walk and an error at second base led to an RBI double by Angelo Castanos. The double was followed by a walk, a fly ball to center and a strikeout to end the inning.

The Reggies went down in order in the 6th and couldn’t make anything out of a leadoff walk in the 7th.

Wakefield added two runs in the 4th, a run in the 5th, and another in the 6th as the Warriors celebrated a tournament victory for the first time since 2003.

The win sees the Warriors move on to face another Commonwealth Athletic Conference opponent with a trip to Conference Champion Div. 2 North’s No. 1 seed Whittier Tech on Monday.

“Our thought going in was to see if we could have Gabe go out there and shut them down right away, then go to Chris, but it didn’t quite workout like that,” said Warriors manager Kevin Canty following the big win.

“We were able to battle back from the little bit of adversity in the first inning, and do what we were capable of doing in the whole game, which was put balls in play and force them to make mistakes. That was our goal today,” the manager said.

“We knew coming in that they had pitching that we could handle so as long as we put balls in play and forced them to make mistakes.”

On what it means for this team to take a win in the tournament, Canty said, “It’s been 16 years since we had a tournament win. I think we’re excited about that, but I don’t think we’re happy with just that. We have to look forward to the next game, because this is a team that if we start getting on a roll, we could do a lot of damage.”

On the next game with Whittier Tech, Canty added, “They won their league, they’re a good team, they have a hard throwing lefty who’s not bad; we just have to go up there with the same approach, same plan we had up there at the plate today, force them to make plays and see where it gets us.”