LYNN — Needing a win to cement their bid in the District 16 Tournament final, the Lynnfield 12-year-old All-Stars brought their best effort Tuesday evening.
Christian Rosa pitched 5 2/3 strong innings and Nick Hubbard tallied three RBI in Lynnfield’s 9-3 win over Salem at Pine Hill’s Spagnoli Field.
Rosa totaled 14 strikeouts and allowed two earned runs on six hits.
“Christian’s awesome,” Lynnfield manager Matt Adamo said. “He has three pitches and he throws the ball hard. He’s able to spot his fastball and keep hitters off-balance the entire game.
“Salem’s really good,” Adamo added. “They lost their first game and then they just kept winning. They came back from some pretty big deficits. We never felt comfortable with any lead but with Christian on the mound and his mentality, I knew he wouldn’t get rattled.”
With the loss, Salem’s eliminated from the District 16 Tournament.
“Lynnfield’s a great team,” Salem manager Kevin McGrath said. “They can hit the ball. I wish nothing but the best of luck for those guys and for Peabody West.”
Salem grabbed a quick lead in the top of the first. Jack Doyle laced a one-out double and scored the game’s first run on a Lynnfield error. Julian Ortiz followed with a two-out single but Rosa buckled down and Lynnfield escaped the jam with a 1-0 deficit.
Lynnfield plated five runs in the bottom of the first. Nick Groussis came home on a wild pitch and an errant throw back to Salem starter Casey McGrath allowed Tyler Adamo to score. Hubbard (3-for-3, three RBI) added an RBI double and Jarret Scoppettuolo followed with a RBI single. Ryan MacEachern raced home on a wild pitch to cap the rally with Lynnfield ahead 5-1.
“That (first inning) was huge,” Matt Adamo said. “When Nick (Groussis) and Tyler get on, good things happen. They’re fast and they can run the bases. We scored two on a passed ball. Those two guys, if we can get them on they set the table. We have the big bats to follow to drive them in.”
Rosa struck out the side in the top of the second and Lynnfield added three runs to its lead in the bottom half. Matthew Papagikos reached on an error to lead the inning and pinch-runner Brendan Manoogian scored on Tyler Adamo’s sac-fly. Rosa, who singled, scored on an errant pickoff attempt to boost Lynnfield’s lead to 7-1. Hubbard added a RBI double to right, giving Lynnfield an 8-1 advantage after two frames.
Hubbard roped his third RBI double of the evening in the fourth, making it a 9-1 Lynnfield edge.
“You see the other team react (during Hubbard’s at-bats) and they’re taking a step back,” Matt Adamo said. “He swings such a good bat and he’s seeing the ball so well. The ball explodes off his bat. He hit three one-hoppers to the fence and they all looked like they’d hop through the fence because he hits it so hard.”
Salem’s EJ Colbert led the fifth with a single. After a strikeout, Rocco Ryan (1-for-2, 2 RBI) provided the highlight of the game for Salem with a 2-run home-run to centerfield.
“Rocco Ryan hitting that home-run, he’s my only 11-year-old,” Kevin McGrath said. “I was very happy for him. I think that’s his first home-run in Little League.”
Rosa induced the first two outs of the sixth on a pair of strikeouts before reaching his pitch count limit of 85. Manoogian came on in relief and induced a groundout to finish Lynnfield’s 9-3 win.
Lynnfield, with a day off Wednesday, shifts its gears to preparing for Thursday’s District 16 final against undefeated Peabody West (5:45 at Wyoma.) Should Lynnfield defeat Peabody West Thursday, the two teams will play a winner-take-all tilt Friday night for the District 16 crown.
The two squads met last Saturday in a 16-2 Peabody West victory. Matt Adamo acknowledged that Peabody West presents a tough task but feels his team will be ready for the challenge.
“They’re awesome. Their No. 2-5 hitters can rip the ball,” Adamo said. “They have kids that throw hard and they play well in the field. It’s nice to get another crack at them.”