BELMONT — For Lynnfield baseball coach John O’Brien, it doesn’t get any better than the Pioneers’ 1-0 win over Burlington in the opening round of the Brendan Grant Memorial Baseball Tournament Friday at Belmont.
Not only did the Pioneers play “their cleanest game of the year,” they made the day a memorable one for O’Brien, who earned the 200th win of his Lynnfield coaching career.
“It was a fantastic game,” O’Brien said. “I told the kids before the game that I wanted to beat this team badly, and was something deep down I really wanted to get today. This tournament has always been very special and dear to me. But I didn’t tell the kids until after the game what it meant to me. Overall our defense was tremendous, our pitching was outstanding, and we managed to scratch out the one run we needed to win the game.”
The game was a pitchers’ duel from start to finish with just six combined hits.
Fernando Gonzalez delivered a dominant performance, allowing just two hits (one infield) with 13 strikeouts. Only one Burlington batter reached second base after a sixth inning, two-out double by Sean Casey. He was stranded after Clayton Marengi made the defensive play of the game with a diving catch of a sinking line drive that robbed the Red Devils of the game-tying run.
The only run of the game came after a careless throwing error by the Burlington catcher returning the ball back to starter Josh Becker opened the door for Cooper Marengi to scamper home from third in the bottom of the fourth.
“Fernando just just threw strikes, and we made all the plays behind him,” said O’Brien. “That was a terrific catch that Clayton and I cannot say enough about Nick Giammarco, who called a great game behind the plate. Heads up baserunning by Cooper on that play to score, and we got some solid play from (Jonathan) Luders at short and Joey Mack, who got the start at second base today.”
Lynnfield plays Belmont in the championship game Saturday (2).