LYNNFIELD — It’s tough to win a baseball game when the bats go cold. Mix in a few costly errors, and an opposing pitcher on his A game, and the hill gets even steeper.
That’s how things went for the Lynnfield baseball team in Thursday afternoon’s 9-0 loss to Cape Ann League opponent Masconomet. The Pioneers were no-hit by Chieftains pitcher Andrew Manni, who went 21 up, 21 down in his seven innings of work at Lynnfield High.
Manni, a senior right-hander, finished with 10 strikeouts. Manni also no-hit Newburyport earlier in the season.
“Andrew was all around the zone,” Masconomet coach T.J. Baril said. “He was mixing his pitches really well. He was in and out, didn’t get behind in counts. He jumped ahead early and challenged the hitters. That’s what you have to do at this point in the season. He throws the ball pretty well and the guys made plays behind him.
“I can’t say enough about what (catcher) Dylan Duval did behind the plate,” Baril added. “He called every pitch, he blocked every pitch. The two of them, that battery’s outstanding.”
Lynnfield’s lone base runner of the afternoon, Cooper Marengi, reached on a swinging third strike that rolled to the backstop in the bottom of the second inning. From there, it was all Manni and Masconomet the rest of the way.
“He (Manni) mixed his change-up in really well with his fastball,” Lynnfield coach John O’Brien said. “He didn’t throw a lot of curves but he was very smart. He used his off-speed very well and he can hit the ball. He’s the best player in our league, without question.”
Masconomet loaded the bases in the top of the first inning but Lynnfield starting pitcher Fernando Gonzalez limited the Chieftains to one run. Gonzalez threw five innings and allowed three earned runs. William Garofoli took the ball in relief and pitched the final two innings.
Lynnfield kept its deficit at one run until Masconomet took advantage of a Pioneers error in the top of the third. An errant Lynnfield throw with two outs opened the door for the Chieftains to turn a 1-0 lead into a 4-0 advantage.
David Hunter hit a two-run home run in top of the fifth, bumping Masconomet’s lead up to 6-0. The Chieftains added two more runs in the top of the sixth on a misplayed line drive and one more in the seventh, making the most of a leadoff triple to stretch their lead to 9-0.
“We have to hit the ball,” O’Brien said. “One run wins the game. Give Masconomet credit, they swing and they really hit the ball. That’s a good ballclub. I think they’ll do some damage in the Division 2 playoffs.”
Manni made quick work of the Pioneers in the bottom of the seventh, fanning the first batter, inducing a groundout to second base and a flyout to center field to seal his no-hitter.
“I think he went to a three-ball count on two guys,” Baril said. “That shows his efficiency. He challenged batters from the first pitch to the last pitch. It’s his second no-hitter of the season. He challenges batters and throws his strikes.”
Lynnfield (12-3) takes on Newburyport Tuesday.
“We just have to regroup and get ready for Tuesday,” O’Brien said. “We have to play better than that. I’m not taking anything away from Masconomet, they swing the bats well. He (Manni) pitched a great game and had a great presence.”
Masconomet (15-2) visits Beverly Saturday.