WOBURN — The Woburn High baseball team did not need extra innings to gain a tournament victory, this time, but the Tanners did need all seven to gain a 4-3 walk-off quarterfinal victory over Marblehead, in the MIAA Div. 2 North tournament, yesterday at Carroll Field.
No. 4 seed Woburn (16-6) now advances to the sectional semifinals where it will be the higher seed in a matchup with No. 8 Wakefield, Wednesday afternoon (4 p.m.) at Fraser Field in Lynn. The Warriors (14-8) knocked off top seed Whittier Tech, 2-1.
Aidan Vining was on the mound for the Tanners and he struggled a bit in the first three innings before pitching lights out in the final four. This allowed his teammates to rally from a 3-0 deficit to eventually pull out the win with no outs in the bottom of the seventh.
“The kid showed a lot of heart out there,” said Woburn coach Joe Wells, of Vining, a junior left-hander, who is now 5-1 for the year. “He was getting up there in his pitch count, we were thinking of taking him out of there. But, he had struck out seven of the last eight batters so we let him go another inning.”
Vining had eight strikeouts in all while tossing a three-hitter with three earned runs and two walks.
After falling behind, 3-0, in the top of the third, the Tanners got two runs in the bottom of the third and then tied the game in the fifth. Woburn had chances to go ahead in the third, fifth and sixth before finally winning the game in the seventh.
The Magicians (14-8) trotted out their third pitcher to start the bottom of the seventh and he responded with six straight balls. This allowed leadoff hitter Jesse Stocker to walk, and Kevin Vasapolli to get into a hitter’s count. After Chris Gally finally got a called strike, Stocker stole second, and Vasapolli drove him in with a line drive hit to right-center for the walk-off victory.
Marblehead took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second. Ben Brennan singled with one out, and with two outs, slugger Aidan Michaud took the first pitch he saw and drove it over the fence in left-center for a two-run home run.
Magician starter Ben Weed took care of Woburn over the first two innings, inducing all six outs on popups and lazy fly balls to the outfield.
Marblehead took a 3-0 lead in the third without the benefit of a hit. Gadot Gaskins walked, stole second, went to third on a groundout to second, and scored on a ground out to shortstop by Eric Gonzalez.
It was at this point that Vining settled into a groove. He would go on to retire 15 of the last 16, with the only blemish an infield single with one out in the fourth. He got seven of his eight strikeouts between the fourth and sixth innings.
“He’s a bull who has been working hard all year,” said Wells, of Vining. “He worked hard in the off-season to get himself where he is today. I’m proud of him.”
The Tanners got right back into the game in the bottom of the third with a couple runs off of Weed.
Dane LeBert led off with a single, followed by a bunt single from Stocker to put runners on first and second. Vasapolli hit a hard ground ball to shortstop that had the look of a possible double play ball. The shortstop got the ball to second for one out, but the throw to first was not in time. LeBert did not stop at third and tried to score after the throw to first. It was a close play at the plate but LeBert was called out by the umpire.
Woburn turned into two-out rally mode, and a walk to Ryan Qualey was followed by a ground-rule double by Nick D’Antuono to get the first run on the scoreboard. Qualey scored the second run on a wild pitch.
The Tanners tied the game in the fifth with a run, but it could have been a much bigger inning if they had not run into two more outs.
With one out in the fifth, Stocker sent a line drive over the left fielder’s head for a double. But Stocker tried to stretch it into a triple and was tagged out at third.
Ryan Masters had come on to pitch for Marblehead to start the fifth, and he was victimized by back-to-back errors that allowed Vasapolli and Qualey to reach, and put the Tanners back in action.
D’Antuono singled to score Vasapolli from second. After the throw came into the infield, Qualey tried to hustle home from third and he too was tagged out to end the threat.
“We were just trying to put pressure on their defense, and make them make plays,” said Wells. “We ran through a couple stop signs today, but I always tell the kids if we’re going to make mistakes, let’s make them being aggressive.”
Neither of the Magician relievers were successful at keeping the Tanners off the bases, and Woburn took advantage of it when it needed to do, in the bottom of the seventh.
“We got great leadership from our seniors; I’m so proud of them,” said Wells. “This (win) is great for our program. We’ve come a long way in a short amount of time and we hope this builds on that. We have more work to do though.”
The Tanners defeated the Warriors during the regular season, 7-1, with Vining pitching a complete game in that one, as well. Qualey will likely be ready to go on Wednesday with a trip to the final on the line.