SWAMPSCOTT — Don’t look now, but the Saugus baseball team is only a win away from making the state tournament.
The Sachems, 9-6, are on the verge of punching their ticket to the tournament thanks to Monday’s 4-2 win over Swampscott at the Swampscott Middle School. Saugus rode the arms of three pitchers — Dominick Clark, Mike Mabee and Todd Tringale to tame the Big Blue (7-6) in a well-played game.
“We had a plan to pitch Clark, and then come in with Mike and Todd,” said Saugus coach Joe Luis. “But when Mike had a clean (1-2-3) sixth inning, we thought we might start the seventh with him.”
That lasted all of two batters. Mabee plunked leadoff hitter Ryan Graciale, and, with Zach Elwell up, a wild pitch sent Graciale to second. Elwell then stroked a single up the middle, with Graciale — mindful of the 2-run deficit the Big Blue faced entering the inning — stopped at third.
That was it for Mabee. Out he came and in came Tringale, who struck out 12 batters last week in a perfect game against Stoneham.
Pinch-hitter Nick Reiser punched one down to first base and C.J. Graffeo made the play himself, with the runners staying put.
Tringale then went to 2-0 on the next two batters — Dylan January (who had hit a moon shot deep over the left-field fence earlier in the game) and Graham Inzana before coming back to strike them both out, January looking and Inzana swinging.
The seventh inning was — to Swampscott coach Jason Calichman’s dismay — fairly representative of how the day went for the Big Blue.
“We had runners on base in five of the seven innings,” he said, “and bases loaded twice, But we couldn’t get the big hit.
“I thought (Max Pegnato) pitched well enough,” said Calichman, “but we just couldn’t cash in on our opportunities.”
Swampscott took a 2-0 lead thanks to some early struggles by Clark, who settled down nicely after the second.
“Yes,” said Luis, “he had a tough time early. But he kept us in for as long as he pitched. He did a nice job.”
With one out in the bottom of the first, Spencer Perkins walked, and Graciale followed with a single. Elwell grounded to first, moving the runners up. After a walk to David Quill loaded the bases, January hit a scorcher to third that ricocheted off the glove of Saugus’ Colby Murphy. Everybody was safe all around, and a run scored.
January put Swampscott up 2-0 with his third-inning blast, but the Sachems got to work in the fourth. Consecutive singles by Anthony Cogliano, Mabee and Jackson Stanton led off the inning and produced the Sachems’ first run.
Clark then sacrificed, putting runners on second and third. A ground ball to short by John Torres brought Mabee home, and Graffeo’s base hit knocked in Stanton with the go-ahead run.
The Sachems grabbed their insurance run in the fifth. Ronnie Paolo led off with a walk, and was sacrificed to second by Cogliano. He surprised everyone by stealing third, and was able to come home on Mabee’s sacrifice fly to deep center.
Swampscott entertains Danvers Wednesday (6:30) while the Sachems host Salem Wednesday (4).