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Quick start propels Pine Hill over East Lynn

Pine Hill's Chris Champa smiles as he slides back into third base. (Katie Morrison)

LYNN — After opening the 2017 City Series with an extra-inning loss to West Lynn, the Pine Hill Reds bounced back Wednesday with a 14-3 win over East Lynn at Kiley Playground in a loser’s bracket game.

After mistakes sunk Pine Hill Saturday, the Reds scored early and often against East Lynn and coach Rich Avery was satisfied with the focus his team showed from beginning to end.

“I was happy that we jumped out right away,” Avery said. “We seemed to have a lot more energy today. It seemed like we weren’t as focused last game, and they stayed focused the whole game today, which was good.”

Pine Hill will try to advance Friday in a rematch with West Lynn.

“It will be a good rematch, we’re looking forward to playing them again,” Avery said.

Wednesday, Pine Hill jumped out to a 5-0 lead after half an inning. After Stevie Pedro drew a leadoff walk, Ethan Chevalier brought him in with a double to right-center. David Brown followed with a RBI double in almost the same spot to make it 2-0, and an error brought home Brown. Will McCaffery struck out swinging, but the ball got away and Juniel Guzman, who reached on the error that scored Brown, scored. The throw to first also skipped away and McCaffery turned a strikeout into two runs, coming all the way around.

East Lynn starter Morenal Castro was caught in a jam after Chris Champa smacked a double, Richie Avery singled and Nick Rogers walked, loading the bases with one out. But Castro buckled down and got an infield fly and fielder’s choice to escape without allowing any further damage.

Guzman, starting on the mound for Pine Hill, shut down East Lynn in the first. East Lynn manager Matt Morin went with Ayden Quezada on the mound in the second, and Quezada delivered, striking out the side.

“He was our closer, and unfortunately he had to come in and help us there,” Morin said. “He’s one of our biggest leaders, and he held them for a little while.”

Pine Hill added a run in the top of the third as Champa slammed a double to right and stole third. Nate Sisson came through with a RBI single to make it 6-0.

In the bottom of the third, Guzman started to struggle with his command, and East Lynn plated two runs without the benefit of a hit. Jaiden LeBlanc was hit with a pitch to lead off the frame, but Guzman settled in to strike out the next two.

Three straight walks to Jayce Jean-Pierre, Anthony Cedeno and Quezada brought in a run, and a walk to Castro loaded the bases, but Guzman struck out the final batter of the inning.

“That’s how he does it, he’s a pretty focused kid and bit the bullet, got down to it and got the job done,” Avery said.

Pine Hill responded with two runs of their own in the top of the fourth. Brown dropped a double down the right-field line and Guzman walked, setting the stage for Sisson, who smacked a two-run double to make it 8-2.

“Every time they got a run, we tried to combat it,” Avery said. “We made a bunch of mistakes last game, and we were mistake-free on the basepaths today, and that definitely helps.”

Pine Hill added to its lead in the fifth when Jayden Driscoll and Pedro drew back-to-back walks to start the frame. Chevalier brought in a run with a groundout to second, and another came in on Brown’s single. After intentionally walking Guzman, Quezada was lifted for Jared Paone, who gave up a two-run double to McCaffery but settled in after to keep the score at 12-2.

East Lynn forced a sixth inning with a run in the fifth off Sisson, who took over for Guzman with one out due to Guzman’s pitch count. But Pine Hill added two runs in the sixth, and Sisson, despite allowing two hits in the inning, held East Lynn scoreless to seal the win.

The loss ends the season for East Lynn, which dropped both its City Series games after falling to Lynn Shore Saturday.

“We have four 12-year-olds on this team, and they’re the leaders, and they’ll be sorely missed,” Morin said. “We’ve preached being a family from the beginning. You can’t win by yourself, you have to win as one, and we did that during the regular season, but we didn’t really show up in this tournament. We ran into two good pitchers and you can’t do much.”

The City Series continues tonight, as Wyoma and Lynn Shore square off in a winners’ bracket battle.

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