SWAMPSCOTT — It wasn’t easy, but the Swampscott Sox extended their North Shore Baseball League championship series to six games with a wild 4-3 win over the Kingston Night Owls Thursday night in Swampscott.
Night Owls pitcher Aaron Hall was cruising, going into the sixth inning with a 3-1 lead. Then, Hall gave way to Jeff White with two away and the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth. White retired Kyle O’Connor to get out of trouble, but he would not be so fortunate in the bottom of the seventh.
Things started badly for White, who plunked the first batter, Esteban Paula, and then had to face Elvis Rodriguez, who already has hit a few dramatic homers in this year’s playoffs. With a 2-2 count, Rodriguez smashed a fastball deep into the night over the left-field fence tying things up at 3-3. White retired three of the next four batters and the game went into extra innings. Chris Murphy, who came on in the fourth inning for J. P. Reiling, and his Sox teammates were the beneficiaries of some questionable base-running decisions by the Night Owls in the top of the eighth. Jake White beat one out for a single, and then tried to score when the throw to get the next batter Dan Morin sailed into right field.
Sox Catcher Louis Olivieri was waiting at home plate with the ball to tag White out, with Morin landing at third. The Night Owls then tried the suicide squeeze, but Joe Murphy couldn’t get his bat on a high fastball from Murphy, and Olivieri chased down Morin and tagged him out.
Sox manager Joe Caponigro said he called time before that play, because he thought Kingston might try the squeeze.
“I just told Murph to get it up high and hard, and he did and we got another out, two outs at the plate in the eighth inning,” Caponigro said. “We had a really tough loss in eight innings last night, but these guys have character I knew they’d bounce back. Last night we had leads in the sixth, seventh and eighth and couldn’t hold them, but we were able to get this one tonight.”
Owl Nick Musto came on to pitch the bottom of the eighth and got two strikeouts, but Junior Santos hustled down the line on a ground ball and beat the throw with a headfirst slide into the first base bag. Santos swiped second, then after a few tosses to second by Musto, stole third. Paula followed with a grounder; beat the throw to first, with Santos coming home with the winning run.
Paula had given the Sox a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when he homered off of Hall. Hall didn’t give up another hit until the sixth when Richie Arias and Ryan Healey singled.
The Sox’ Murphy went five innings in relief of Reiling, picking up the win, allowing just one run on an RBI single from Colin Walsh in the fifth, that gave the Night Owls a 3-1 lead at the time.
Kingston manager Paul Satori knew it was going to be tough to get the fourth win against the Sox.
“I knew this series was going to be tough, it will probably go the full seven. That team has a lot of talent and a lot of guys that don’t quit, I knew they’d come back hard after Wednesday’s game,” Satori said. “The fourth one is the hardest to get, so we’ll try to get it tomorrow (Friday).”
Game 6 is scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday night at Haverhill Stadium, with a Game 7, if needed, Sunday evening at 6:30 in Swampscott.