Justin Juliano retired 12 of the final 13 batters he faced in Lynnfield’s win over Pentucket.
By ANNE MARIE TOBIN
LYNNFIELD — After suffering its first loss of the season Thursday (10-4 at Hamilton-Wenham) the Lynnfield baseball team rebounded with a come-from-behind 5-4 win over visiting Pentucket Saturday morning.
The Pioneers improved to 14-1, while Pentucket, which came into the day riding a four-game winning streak, dropped to 5-8.
Trailing 4-2, the Pioneers scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to secure senior captain Justin Juliano’s fourth win of the season. Juliano got off to a rocky start, but settled down and finished strong, retiring 12 of the final 13 batters he faced.
“He got the curveball going in the second half of the game, that was the difference,” Lynnfield coach John O’Brien said. “Sometimes when you struggle, the tendency is to stay away from it, but to his and catcher Bryant Dana’s credit, they stuck with it and it paid dividends in the second half of the game.”
After a sloppy effort against the Generals, the Pioneers played a fairly clean defensive game, with shortstop Jonathan Luders, Dana and sophomore first baseman Fernando Gonzalez making key plays in the late innings.
Luders, who normally plays right field, got the start at short with regular shortstop Juliano on the mound. He robbed Pentucket’s Jake Deziel of a base hit in the top of the fifth when Deziel hit a vicious shot that glanced off Juliano toward second base. Luders made the grab and fired a bullet to first for the out.
In the top of the sixth, Finn Graham hit a shot to second baseman Mike Federico, but his throw was off the mark and got past Gonzalez. Dana alertly backed up the play and tossed to Gonzalez, who put the tag on Graham after overrunning the base.
“He (Luders) was smart enough to keep going on the play and made a strong throw,” said O’Brien. “The play at first, that’s coach (Ryan) Sheehan’s work, he’s been working with Bryant to take a better angle and he was right there and Fernando was smart enough to stay on the base.”
The Sachems took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on an RBI single by Deziel.
Lynnfield came right back with two runs in the bottom of the inning. Luders and center fielder Kyle Hawes (1-for-2, run) led off with back-to-back singles. Luders scored on a single by Juliano and Hawes scored on a long double by third baseman Mike Stellato (1-for-4).
Pentucket regained the lead in the second. Freshman Jake Etter led off with a double and scored on a wild pitch. Steve Johanson reached on a fielder’s choice, got to third on a single by Conor O’Neil and scored on a sacrifice bunt by Gus Flaherty.
The Sachems made it 4-2 in the third. Steve Noyes singled, stole second and scored on Etter’s single.
After that, Juliano shut the door, retiring the next 11 Sachems in order.
Lynnfield had chances to cut into the lead, but stranded five runners from the second inning through fourth innings.
The Pioneers finally got the bats going in the fifth when they batted through the order and chased Sachems’ starter, Jimmy Cleary, from the game.
Dana (1-for-4, run) got things started with a single through the left side of the infield. He stole second and scored on a double to left center by left fielder Cooper Marengi (1-for-2, run, RBI). Federico (1-for-3, run) singled Marengi to third, and both scored on a long double by Gonzalez (1-for-3). The Pioneers loaded the bases after Luder’s third hit of the game and a walk to Hawes, but could not push another run across the plate.
“Dana gets that hit, Coop had a beautiful double, then Mike gets the bat on the ball, and the difference came down to Gonzalez’s two-run double,” said O’Brien. “In the beginning, they got one run but came back and got two, so it was good for us to answer. Second time through the lineup we got into a bit of a lull, but the third time through we started to hit the ball, we went back to what we’re good at. We had a good practice yesterday, we hit and we hit and we hit, and that paid off today.”
Luders (3-for-3, run) and Juliano (2-for-4) had multiple hit games.
In seven innings, Juliano (4-0) gave up three earned runs on only six hits. He struck out five, walked one and hit a batter.
Both teams are back in action Tuesday with the Pioneers taking on Masconomet on the road and Pentucket taking on North Reading at home.