ITEM PHOTO BY KATIE MORRISON
Kevin Durant rounds third base on his way to scoring a run.
By HAROLD RIVERA
LYNN — When the Classical and English baseball teams meet, records are meaningless. Classical remained undefeated (14-0) with a 10-6 win over the Bulldogs at Fraser Field on Friday, but English gave the Rams a battle.
That’s what Classical coach Mike Zukowski expected coming into the game.
“When these two teams meet up, everything gets thrown out the window,” Zukowski said. “We could be 0-13, 5-5, it just doesn’t matter. They want to beat us, we want to beat them. We see each other all the time, so it’s about bragging rights.”
The Rams plated four runs in the top of the first inning, giving Classical an ideal start. English, on the other hand, was forced to make a quick pitching change and dug itself into an early deficit.
“That first inning was atrocious,” English coach Joe Caponigro said. “We couldn’t throw strikes. We spotted them four runs and it’s tough to dig out of a hole like that.”
English got one back in the bottom of the first on an RBI single from Anderson Figuereo, slimming the deficit to 4-1.
An RBI single off Geo Morales’ bat allowed English to inch closer at 4-2 in the bottom of the second.
“I thought that other than that first inning with our pitching and kicking the ball around, we did okay,” Caponigro said. “We battled, we hit the ball, we had some decent at-bats.”
The Rams added two in the third on a two-run double from AJ Luciano. Luciano’s double scored Sean Devin and Kevin Durant, padding the lead at 6-2.
Timely hits, along with taking advantage of English’s five fielding errors, were two of the keys to Classical’s win.
“AJ Luciano’s double in the third was a timely hit for us,” Zukowski said. “Timely hitting, and we took advantage of their mistakes, that’s how baseball works. We took advantage of their mistakes when we had to. That’s how we pushed runs across.”
The difference stayed at four runs until Classical scored three more in the top of the fifth go ahead by seven. Durant reached on an infield error to get things started and took third on a double by Luciano. Tyler Way brought Durant home on an RBI single to make it a 7-2 lead. Way stole second and came around to score, along with Luciano, on Christian Burt’s two-run double.
“It wasn’t like we bunched up all our runs together,” Zukowski said. “We had to spread it out and get timely hits.”
The three-run rally gave Classical a 9-2 advantage and seemingly put the game away, until English fought back with four runs in the bottom half of the frame.
Billy Allen’s single with the bases loaded scored Andy Duverge. Classical starting pitcher Brett Bucklin, who lasted 4 2/3 innings, got the next two batters out but Morales added a two-run single to the rally to make it 9-5. Wilbur Rosario followed with an RBI single of his own, bringing Allen home. It was a 9-6 at the end of the fifth and the Bulldogs were back in it.
“I was thinking ahead, but it didn’t materialize,” Caponigro said. “Classical brought in (Andrew) Moccia in relief, and he blew us away. He throws the ball hard.”
Classical brought another run home in the seventh, making it a 10-6 lead. Moccia, who tossed 2 1/3 innings in relief, sent English down in order in the sixth and seventh innings and Classical held on for the 10-6 win.
“I’m very proud of Andrew,” Zukowski said. “He pitched once this season before this but he wanted the ball and he threw strikes.”
Both teams are back on Monday, when Classical visits Marblehead and English hosts Everett.