ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Richard Mateo (left) pumps up starting pitcher Jhoan Otrega prior to the first inning.
By HAROLD RIVERA
The short version of the story is that the Lynn Tech baseball team earned its first win of the season with a 10-9 victory over Minuteman on Wednesday evening at Fraser Field. The more complicated version of the story is that Minuteman made the Tigers earn it.
Tech fought back from a 7-0 deficit to stun Minuteman in nine innings on a 2-run game-winning single off the bat of sophomore outfielder Kenny Moore. The Tigers never led in Wednesday’s game until Moore brought home the tying and game-winning runs.
Needless to say, it wasn’t how Tech coach Mike Kenney had drawn it up.
“Not at all,” Kenney joked. “It was pretty tough the whole game, right until the very end. That was good baseball in the end though, it was fun.”
The game was scoreless through the first two innings but Tech ran into trouble in the top of the third. Tech made a handful of mistakes, including an error in the outfield and a couple of wild pitches, and the Mustangs made the Tigers pay for them.
A scoreless game became a 7-0 contest in favor of Minuteman, and things weren’t looking good for the Tigers after three innings.
The Tigers struck back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth. Richard Mateo scored the first when he raced home on a wild pitch. Dantai Robertson scored the second when Serey Eang brought him home on an infield groundout.
A Minuteman run in the top of the fifth made it a six-run advantage for the Mustangs at 8-2.
Tech clawed back in with another pair of scores in the bottom of the frame. Edward Cuevas and Michael Brown drew walks to start the inning and came around to score on a groundout from Jhoan Ortega. The Tigers were back in the game at the end of the fifth, down 8-4.
“We had been chipping away at them, putting runners on base the whole time,” Kenney said. “These guys knew it was just inevitable if they stuck to their gameplan and their baseball mechanics. They knew they were going to come through.”
Tech held the Minuteman bats honest in the sixth and seventh innings, and added a run to make it 8-5 going into the bottom of the seventh. The inning started with a pair of walks and single off the bat of Ortega that brought in a run to make it 8-6.
With runners on second and third, Mateo struck out, but a wild pitch allowed a run to come home. Minuteman then committed an error in an attempt to throw out Ortega, who crossed home plate with the tying run.
Tech had the bases loaded with two outs, but Moore popped out to force extra innings.
Neither team scored in the eighth, but Minuteman took the lead back, 9-8, in the top of the ninth.
With runners on second and third and two outs, Moore came up to bat with another chance to become Tech’s hero, and this time he came through. The sophomore hit a rocket to straight-away center, deep enough for Eang and Evans Diaz to come home with the tying and winning runs for Tech.
“He (Moore) was incredibly nervous the entire time,” Kenney said. “I kept trying to calm him down. He played a couple games on varsity last year. He got his first big taste of what a varsity game is like. He did a heck of a job fighting off some pitches in that at-bat.”
For Tech, Brown earned the win on the mound after coming into relieve Ortega in the fourth. Brown tossed 5 2/3 innings with nine strikeouts.
“I debated with him (Brown),” Kenney said. “Mike’s such a competitor. He was our rock last year. I wasn’t supposed to pitch him tonight, but we got down in the fourth inning and he said he was good to pitch. I wouldn’t expect anything less.”
Tech (1-1) battles against Nashoba today.