LYNN — This was not at all the way the defending Northeastern Conference champion Lynn Classical wanted to start the 2018 season.
The Rams made a number of fielding mistakes and fell to Masconomet, 9-4, in their season opener at Fraser Field Thursday afternoon. Most crucial were three fielding errors that led to five unearned runs.
“Definitely not the way you want to start the year,” said Classical coach Mike Zukowski. “We just couldn’t make a play out there today, and that’ll kill you.”
The score certainly doesn’t indicate the way that Classical starter David Barnard pitched. The junior righty tossed four innings and gave up six runs (only one of them earned) on five hits with four strikeouts. Matt Gisonno and Kyle Finnegan pitched well in relief.
“David went out and pitched a great game, we just couldn’t do anything behind him,” Zukowski said. “I give him a lot of credit for staying composed out there and keeping us in it for a while, but we’ve got to be better in the field behind him.”
Almost all of Masconomet’s damage was done with two outs, and it started right in the top of the first inning. After Barnard cruised through the first two outs, he hit a batter to keep the inning alive. After a stolen base, Chieftains starter David Hunter slapped a soft bouncing ball to second base that he beat out for an infield single. Since the runner, Nick Desimone, was off on contact and the play developed so slowly, he was able to come all the way around and score from second base on the play. Hunter went on to steal second, then he came around to score on an infield throwing error.
Masconomet topped off the inning when Andrew Manni smacked an RBI single into left field to take a 3-0 lead.
Hunter was solid on the bump for Masconomet from the start. He walked the leadoff hitter in the bottom of the first, then went on to seven straight batters before walking another. Classical had only two baserunners through the first three innings,
The Chieftains added to their lead in the top of the fourth. Once again, Barnard easily retired the first two batters. But then, two singles and a stolen base put runners on second and third for Jack Seymour. His popup to short was dropped, however, and both runners came in to score. Next up was Dylan Duval, who knocked an RBI single into left-center to make it 6-0.
The Rams were able to get a couple back in the bottom of the inning. Barnard and Brett Bucklin both singled. Then, a throwing error by Masconomet on a routine ground ball brought both of them in and made it 6-2.
The score stayed that way until the top of the sixth, when a walk and a single put two Masconomet runners on base with no outs. Up came Seymour, who hit a 2-run single right up the middle to make it 8-2. Seymour eventually reached third base, where he was knocked in by an RBI single from Hunter.
Despite being down by seven runs, Classical didn’t quit. The Rams continued to fight into the bottom of the seventh, scoring a run on a throwing error before Aidan Dow knocked in a run on a groundout to make the score 9-4.
“I will say one thing about how we played out there, and that’s that we didn’t give up at all,” Zukowski said. “We battled until the very end, and I think that’s going to set the tone for the rest of the year. The question was, are we going to lay down or are we going to fight through this and show our true character?'”
Classical (0-1) will try to notch its first win when it opens up NEC play against Somerville on Monday.