Swampscott baseball clinches tournament bid

Swampscott starting pitcher Luke Marshall threw six innings in the win. (Item File Photo)

MARBLEHEAD — After some tough losses over the past few weeks, the Swampscott baseball team hopes its peaking at the right time. The Big Blue took down Marblehead five days ago in the Rockport Tournament to get back to its winning ways, and after a 10-2 win over the Magicians Wednesday, Swampscott finds itself in the state tournament.

“Right now, we’re really just hoping to start peaking at the right time,” said Swampscott coach Jason Calichman said after Wednesday’s win. “We had that tough loss to Peabody and the tough loss to (St. John’s) Prep before coming back to win the last two against Marblehead, and we’d like to just keep this ball rolling right now.”

The Big Blue had plenty of contributors on offense, led by David Quill (3-for-5, two RBI) and Zach Elwell (2-for-4, two RBI). Brett Benoit (1-for-2) and Ryan Graciale (1-for-3) also contributed two RBI each, while Dylan January (1-for-3) and Jonathan Oriakhi (1-for-3) each had one RBI.

Pitcher Luke Marshall earned the win on the mound after allowing two earned runs on five hits with five strikeouts in six innings. His younger brother, Tyler Marshall, came in and pitched a scoreless seventh despite allowing three hits.

For Marblehead, Ben McCarthy (1-for-3) and Aidan Michaud (1-for-1) each had one RBI. Starting pitcher Max Karass threw well at times but struggled with command, walking six batters and hitting two more in just three innings. Sam Bernstein and Jonah Bornstein combined to pitch the final four innings in relief.

It was also Marblehead’s senior day, as the Magicians recognized the players who took the field at Seaside Park for the final time.

“We’ve got a group of grinders, that’s for sure,” said Marblehead coach Mike Giardi. “Things didn’t go our way today and we’ve had some troubles this season, but our guys just grind it out every day. With their leadership and the way they’ve been resilient, you just can’t complain about their effort all year.”

The Big Blue got right to work, taking advantage of some early control issues for Karass. After a hit batter and two walks loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the second, Oriakhi laced an RBI single up the middle to give Swampscott a 1-0 lead. Two outs later, Graciale knocked a two-run single to give the Big Blue a 3-0 lead.

The score remained there until the top of the fourth, when Swampscott opened the game. The Big Blue loaded the bases, this time for Elwell. He came through with a two-run single to make it 5-0, then Quill followed it up with an RBI single. Brett Benoit then added an RBI single to make it 7-0.

The one inning that Marblehead was really able to get any kind of momentum rolling was in the bottom of the fourth, and the Magicians still couldn’t come out of it with any runs. Marblehead loaded the bases with two outs for Ryan Masters, but Luke Marshall was able to strike him out to escape unscathed.

After Swampscott added three more runs in the top of the fifth on RBI from Quill, Benoit and January, the Big Blue held a commanding 10-0 lead.

Marblehead finally got on the board in the bottom of the sixth, but the rally was too little, too late. After moving runners to second and third with two outs, Michaud came up with the big hit to knock in Marblehead’s first run. That was followed with an RBI single from McCarthy to make it 10-2, rounding out the scoring.

Marblehead loaded the bases with one out in the seventh thanks to three straight hits off Tyler Marshall, but Marshall quickly recovered to force a 5-4-3 double play to end the game.

Now at 11-9 and in the state tournament, Swampscott doesn’t want to stop here.

“I don’t think we’ve played our best ball yet,” Calichman said. “And if we’re peaking at the right time, that’s all that matters. No one’s going to remember how you started, it’s all about how you finish.”

The Big Blue visit Georgetown Friday.

As for Marblehead (7-12), a trip to the state tournament isn’t in the cards this season. But, as Giardi notes, the Magicians can still close out the season strong with a win over Gloucester today (4).

“We have a chance to come out and get after it one more time in a league game,” said Giardi. “Hopefully we can come out and end the year on a high note.”

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