SWAMPSCOTT — The bats for the Swampscott baseball team remained red-hot Friday afternoon when the Big Blue took down Gloucester, 12-4, at Forest Ave Park. Swampscott has outscored its opponents 24-4 in the last two games, which is exactly how coach Jason Calichman wants his team to play.
“We’ve been swinging the bats well lately,” said Calichman. “We have a lot of good hitters on the team who have a plan when they get up to the plate and who take very disciplined approaches up there.”
The Big Blue were led by junior captain Ryan Graciale, who went 2-for-3 with a home run, a double, a sacrifice fly and four RBI. Junior Zach Elwell was 2-for-3 with two RBI, while sophomore Jonathan Oriakhi was 1-for-3 with a sacrifice fly and two RBI. Spencer Perkins (2-for-4), Anthony Rakauskas (1-for-2), Dylan January (0-for-2) and Graham Inzana (0-for-3) each added one RBI.
On the mound for Swampscott, junior righty Max Pegnato kept the Gloucester bats in check through six innings of work. It was the first start of 2018 for Pegnato, who broke his thumb during basketball season and had a delayed start to the baseball season. In his six innings on the mound, he gave up four runs on eight hits with one walk and three strikeouts.
“That was a really good effort from him in his first game back,” Calichman said of Pegnato. “He went out there and threw strikes, we played good defense behind him and he got a win against a really good hitting team in Gloucester.”
It was actually Gloucester who came out swinging to start the game, pushing a run across in the top of the first. After two quick outs, Jack Sperry laced a two-out double to keep the inning alive. Next up was cleanup hitter Jake MacKillop, who knocked a double of his own into right-centerfield to drive home Sperry and give the Fishermen a 1-0 lead.
But that lead didn’t last long, as Swampscott got to work right away in the bottom of the first. The Big Blue loaded the bases with nobody out, but almost squandered the opportunity after two quick outs. But then Elwell stepped into the box and knocked a two-run single into left-centerfield to give Swampscott the lead and, according to Calichman, settle the team down.
“That was a huge at-bat for us early in the game,” he said. “Zach did a great job there getting us a big hit, and I think it really settled us down for the rest of the game.”
Swampscott loaded the bases again in the bottom of the second. From there, January and Inzana both drew RBI walks and Oriakhi drove in a run on a sacrifice fly to stretch the lead to 5-1.
Gloucester was able to get one back in the top of the third inning on a RBI single from MacKillop, but the Big Blue got the run right back on a RBI single from Oriakhi in the bottom of the fourth.
In the top of the fifth, with the score 6-2 Swampscott, Gloucester got back in the game. The Fishermen loaded the bases and got back-to-back sacrifice flies from MacKillop and Matthew Smith to bring the score to 6-4.
But Swampscott struck right back yet again. And this time, the Big Blue were able to put the game out of reach. In the bottom of the fifth, with runners on first and second, Graciale stepped up to the plate and launched a huge blast over the leftfield fence for a three-run homer to make it 9-4. Then in the sixth, RBI singles from Rakauskas and Perkins as well as a sacrifice fly from Graciale rounded out the scoring for Swampscott.
Colin Reiling came in to close the game, giving up one hit and striking out one batter in his one inning of work.
Now at 4-0 on the young season, Swampscott faces another tough test this coming week with NEC matchups against Salem, Medford and English in a four-day span.
“This league is so tough, you’re facing a team that can beat you every game,” Calichman said. “So we have to drill it into these guys heads that they have to be at their best every game, because anyone can beat you. But you can also beat anyone, so we have to keep that focused mindset and hopefully keep this streak rolling.”
The tough week for the Big Blue opens Monday when they play Salem.