WILMINGTON – Heading into Tuesday's league match-up against first-place Stoneham, the Wilmington High School Baseball team suddenly has been red-hot, winning four of their previous five games, including three coming against Middlesex League Liberty Division opponents.
Through the first four innings against the Spartans, it appeared as if the 'Cats were on their way to another win, leading 2-0. But Stoneham erased those thoughts scoring two runs in the fifth and adding the game winner in the sixth to come away with the 3-2 victory.
The loss puts Wilmington at 6-6 overall.
“Overall, that's a good (Stoneham) team. They are leading (the Middlesex League Freedom Division),” said assistant coach Connor Zaya. “I would imagine that they showed up today thinking they were going to roll past us like they did last time. I think it's good that we were in the entire game, we were up, and if the ball lands a different way, there's no double there and they don't score those runs and we win. But that's how it goes sometimes. That's a really good team and it was a good, competitive game for sure. (Joey) Dynan threw well. It's tough – sometimes we hit and sometimes we don't. We got out on them early, which was good.”
Dynan got the start and through the early goings it appeared as if he was a one-man show. He struck out the side in order in the top of the first, and then turned an unassisted double play in the second, catching a shot back at him before doubling up the runner at first. And before that, in the bottom of the first, with two strikes on him, he singled up the middle to score Jacob Roque, who walked, stole second and moved to third on a groundball.
Dynan got out of a jam in the third, leaving two runners on and in the home half, Wilmington struck for another run. Roque again started the rally with a single to left and then stole second. After a line drive out, Roque went to third on a groundout, before coming home on a wild pitch.
The score stayed 2-0 until the fifth when Stoneham scored two runs on a single and a pair of doubles. The following inning, two singles and two groundouts led to the game winning run crossing the plate.
After scoring those two runs, Wilmington's bats went quiet with just one hit over the next 16 plate appearances – as well as two walks and a hit by pitch. In the bottom of the seventh, No. 9 hitter Michael Monteforte hit a sharp single to left. That brought up lead-off hitter Roque. Zaya decided to let him hit and he grounded into a fielder's choice with Monteforte out at second. Roque was then thrown out trying to steal before a groundout to second ended the game.
Zaya was asked if he thought about bunting Roque in that situation.
“I think Jacob is one of our better hitters, so you got to let him stay hot (and swing away). It was tough for him to get thrown out at second (on the attempted steal). I've coached him for the last three years and he's been thrown out (trying to steal) twice. We were just trying to be aggressive,” he replied.
Monteforte was the lone batter with two hits, while, Roque finished 1-for-3 while scoring two runs, and Dynan and Austin Harper each had a single.
Dynan went the distance giving up three earned runs on eight hits, while walking two and striking out nine.
Last Friday, Wilmington edged out Wakefield, 2-1. Roque was the latest pitcher to excel on the mound during this hot streak. He went the distance, giving up one earned run on three hits, while walking just one and striking out five.
“Jacob pitched well and got his outs, limited his pitches and had good command,” said Zaya. “It was great to see him have success, especially in a difficult road game.”
Roque was a difference in many different ways. He led-off the game with a walk and advanced to third on one of three hits by Matt Vinal. Vinal purposely got himself into a rundown, and Roque took off for home but the throw was wild allowing him to easily score.
Wilmington scored what proved to be the game winning run in the second. Liam Dwyer was on second and scored on a RBI single by Roque.
Wakefield scored its only run in the bottom half on a delayed steal with runners at the corners.
The score remained 2-1 into the bottom of the sixth. Wakefield had a runner on with two outs when Roque thought he was out of the inning with an infield pop up. However, the ball was dropped, but he was picked up the ball and fired a strike to the plate to nail down what would have been the tying run. Roque then finished off what he started by tossing a scoreless seventh to nail down the win.
“We got up early and held the lead which was good to see against a dangerous Wakefield team. It was awesome to sweep the season series and sweep our week,” said Zaya. “We hope to carry this momentum into a huge week against two division teams. There is a lot of baseball left and we have been trying to control what we can control while making a push to a playoff spot. That being said, we have been focusing on one game at a time and trying to win every inning.”
Wilmington will host Watertown on Thursday and then travel to Melrose on Tuesday and then to Arlington on Wednesday for a make-up contest.