LOWELL — On Tuesday night, the Tewksbury Memorial High School Baseball team took a trip South, next door to LeLacheur Park to take on Methuen in the first round of the four-team Spinners Cup Tournament. It was a must-win for both teams, as the Rangers and Redmen entered the game vying for the second place spot in the MVC Division 2 standings, which is an automatic qualification for the state tournament.
Methuen was able to put a big dent in Tewksbury’s chances by scoring four runs in a very sloppy top of the first inning, before adding one in the second and two more in the fourth. The Redmen had single runs in the first and second, and managed just four hits all game as the Rangers came away with a 7-2 victory.
Tewksbury is now 4-10 on the season and 4-9 in league play, while Methuen improves to 7-7 in the league and overall, and now have a 2.5 game lead for that second spot.
“It was a must-win game for us to either try to get second place in the MVC Division 2 or to even scratch and claw to try to get ten wins,” said head coach Kirk Monbleau. “We didn’t throw many strikes early on. We had a couple of OK at-bats early on, but we just couldn’t get much going after the first couple of hits that we got. Just zero momentum and we couldn’t put anything together.
“The four runs is tough to come back from, but I thought we were chasing early on. If we were able to scratch and claw a little bit (it could have been a different outcome) but as the game progressed it seemed like the wind was out of our sails a bit. We tried to keep the guys in it and battled as hard as we could. Maybe we were pressing a bit.”
Methuen struck for the four runs in the top of the first behind three singles, two walks, a wild pitch, an error and a stolen base.
“We actually (swung the bats),” said Methuen head coach Bill Blackwell, a former TMHS assistant baseball coach under Ron Drouin. “I don’t know if it was being at this field or what it was. We have been hitting the ball lately and today we swung the bats as good as we have all season so it was nice to see. The four runs were big. Our pitcher took a deep breath, everyone was able to relax a bit.”
Trailing 4-0, Tewksbury was able to crawl back into the game in the home half. Tyler Keough walked.On a hit-and-run, Matt Perron singled to center but Keough was thrown out at third on a terrific throw by center fielder Derek Hoh. Perron took second in a wild pitch and then scored on an opposite field double to right by Mike Polimeno. Kyle Zervas followed with a line drive to center, but Hoh made a terrific diving catch as he was pretty impressive throughout the game.
“We tried to get things going with a steal attempt and we tried to be aggressive early on,” said Monbleau. “We had a steal with (Tyler) Keough and a base hit at the same time, but a good throw got him out at third so anytime we tried to be a little bit more aggressive, nothing real positive came out of it.”
Methuen added a run in the second on three hits, and Tewksbury answered with an unearned run in the home half as Methuen made three errors.
The Rangers added two more in the fourth to put the game away.
Earlier in the week, Tewksbury came away with a huge upset 2-1 victory over Chelmsford, the No. 10 ranked team in all of Eastern Mass. Senior Riley Frost pitched a gem, tossing a complete game victory, while getting out a few situations by getting a big third out in several innings where the Lions had runners on base. He left the bases loaded in the seventh by striking out the final hitter, gave up a lead off triple in the bottom of the fourth and kept the runner at third, and also stranded a runner in scoring position in the seventh.
Frost also scored the game winning run coming in on a wild pitch in the fifth inning. Tewksbury's first run came in the bottom of the first as Matt Perron tripled to score Kyle Zervas.
"Chelmsford was a big win and Riley Frost did a real good job for us on the mound. We only had two hits but we were able to run the bases OK and play good defense behind Riley and we were able to help him out to get the win,” said Monbleau. “They had ten hits and had the bases loaded late in the game, and we also got out of a jam in the fifth inning. Riley just made the pitches when he needed to and we made the plays behind him.”
Frost did extremely well with his command and location all game.
“That’s what he has been doing all season for us,” said Monbleau. “He doesn’t miss a whole lot of bats because he’s really not overpowering, but he has a good little change-up and a good breaking ball if he has his command.”
Defensively, Matt Cahill made a nice running catch in the outfield coming in the third inning.
Before that, Tewksbury was defeated by Haverhill, 8-0.
With the loss to Methuen in the Spinners Cup, Tewksbury took on North Andover, a 4-2 loser to Lowell on Tuesday night, on Wednesday at 5:00 pm in the consolation round. The results were not known as of presstime.
After that NA contest, Tewksbury will be back in action and will participate in the third annual Haverhill Hillie Classic Baseball Tournament. All games will be played at historic Trinity Stadium in Haverhill. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for students.
Tewksbury will compete in the 'Pena Division' and will face Methuen for the second time in four days with a 4:00 pm match-up on Friday and then will face the winner or loser of the other game between Lowell Catholic and Haverhill on Saturday either at 12:30 pm or 8:00 pm.
After that, Tewksbury will travel to take on Methuen for the third time in eight days next Wednesday, before concluding the regular season with home games against Amesbury on Friday, May 31st at 3:45 pm and then against Lawrence on Sunday, June 2nd at 11:00 am.
If Tewksbury can win six games in a row or somehow tie Methuen for second place in the league standings and qualify for the state tournament, the seedings will be announced on that same June 2nd day with games beginning most likely on June 4th.