Tommy Mento and the Danvers Falcons fell to Greater New Bedford, 6-2.
By HAROLD RIVERA
BROCKTON — The Danvers baseball team took a 50-mile bus ride to Campanelli Stadium in Brockton Thursday, hoping to bring back an Eastern Massachusetts Division 2 state championship trophy back home with a win over Greater New Bedford. The Falcons earned a trophy, but it wasn’t the one they were hoping for.
A three-run rally in the fourth inning and a stellar performance on the mound from pitcher Taylor Arruda powered Greater New Bedford to a 6-2 win over Danvers, earning the Bears the state championship while Danvers ends the season as the runner-up.
The Falcons, the visiting team, plated two runs in the top of the first inning to claim an early lead. Loic Dowd and Tommy Mento stood at second and third no outs and Matt Andreas brought the pair home with a two-run triple. Andreas stood 90 feet away from a third Falcons run but Arruda forced Danvers into three outs in a row, although all three balls were sharply hit, to limit the damage and keep the score at 2-0.
Greater New Bedford got one back in the bottom part of the frame to cut the deficit in half. Noah Rivera singled off Danvers starter Justin Roberto with one out. Arruda reached on an infield error to put runners on first and second and they both advanced on a passed ball. Andrew Mattos brought Rivera home with a RBI sac fly to make it a 2-1 game.
“They have a strong team,” Danvers coach Roger Day said. “They’re a good team. We knew they like to swing the bat on good pitches. They swing the bat and put a lot of pressure.”
The Bears evened the game in the bottom of the second. Andrew Vinagre reached first base on a fielder’s choice and advanced to second on another. Cameron Massa’s RBI single brought Vinagre home for the 2-2 tie.
In the bottom of the third, Jared Methia laced an RBI single to bring Arruda home for the 3-2 Bears lead. From there on out, Greater New Bedford never trailed.
With his team down a run, Day turned to Justin Nadeau for relief. That ended Roberto’s afternoon after two-plus innings of work and five hits allowed.
On the other side, Arruda was finding his rhythm on the mound and keeping the Falcons bats quiet. Danvers went down in order in the second and stranded runners on second and third in the third inning.
“He (Arruda) got better and better after that first inning,” Day said. “No doubt about it. We couldn’t do much after that.”
After the Bears strung together a three-run rally in the fourth, led by Kevin Santiago’s two-RBI single, the Falcons found themselves in a four-run hole, down 6-2.
Dowd and Mento roped back-to-back singles for Danvers with one out in the top of the fifth. Again, Arruda worked himself out of the jam to escape the threat unscathed. Arruda forced Andreas to popout to first baseman Methia and notched the final out of the inning on a fielder’s choice by shortstop Andrew Mattos.
Nadeau and the Falcons retired Greater New Bedford in order, for the first time in the contest, in the bottom of the fifth.
Arruda and the Bears returned the favor, sending Danvers down quickly in the top of the sixth.
Greater New Bedford looked to piece together a late rally for insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth. Methia singled with two outs and Santiago followed by reaching on an infield error. Vinagre was hit by a pitch, loading the bases. Nadeau forced Corey Viera to ground into a fielder’s choice to shortstop Anthony Olszak to end the threat.
The Falcons hoped for one final rally in the seventh but a walk drawn by Dowd was the lone Bears blemish of the inning and Greater New Bedford celebrated a state championship with the 6-2 win.
Danvers, the lone Northeastern Conference team standing this far into the season, was well prepared for the state tournament thanks in part to the competition the Falcons faced throughout the regular season.
“At first I didn’t think the league was that strong but then you look at what we did in the tournament,” Day said. “The NEC had a lot of solid teams and that definitely helped us. We were just as good or better than other teams (in the tournament) but you don’t know that until you get there.”
Despite the loss, Day added that it was an overall positive season for the Falcons. Danvers ends the year at 20-5.
“North titles don’t come very often,” Day said. “A 20-win season doesn’t come around very often. League titles don’t come around very often. We’ll take the three of those. We would’ve liked 21 wins, but sometimes that’s the way it goes.”
The Falcons graduate a talented core of seniors in Andreas, Dean Borders, Daniel Carideo, Jordan DeDonato, Max Paul, Zachary Turner and Joseph Soucy.