LYNN — With a spot in the Lynn City Series championship game on the line Wednesday evening at Kiley Playground, the Pine Hill Reds brought their best. Pine Hill plated six runs in the bottom of the third and the big rally powered the Reds to a 9-5 win over the West Lynn Red Sox.
In addition to solid contributions up and down its order, Pine Hill received a valiant effort on the mound from starting pitcher Juneill Guzman. In 3 2/3 innings of work Guzman tallied nine strikeouts and allowed six walks, four hits and four earned runs.
Guzman worked his way around a pair of early jams in the top halves of the first and second innings, which saw West Lynn strand runners on second and third in each frame.
“Juneill didn’t have his best control tonight,” Pine Hill manager Rich Avery said. “He didn’t have the control that he usually has but he battled all night. He got out of jams multiple times.”
Willy McCafferty pitched the final 2 1/3 innings in relief. McCafferty kept the Red Sox off the board in the closing stretch of the game and fanned four.
West Lynn was led by left fielder Christian Figueroa, who went 3-for-4 with 4 RBI. Figueroa came up with two key hits, both in situations in which West Lynn trailed, to get the Red Sox back in the game.
“Christian’s an awesome kid,” West Lynn manager Rich Contreras said. “He’s a great player. Every time he went at-bat, we scored. He’s a big player.”
The Red Sox threatened in the top of the first inning, when Janier Rodriguez singled from the leadoff spot and Almani Medina walked. Rodriguez and Medina advanced to second and third, respectively, after a passed ball. Guzman fanned the next two batters and escaped the jam when Rodriguez was tagged out at home plate attempting to score on a passed ball.
Pine Hill took the lead in the bottom of the first. Stevie Pedro led the frame with a single and scored on a single from Guzman’s bat. Guzman scored on a wild pitch, giving the Reds a 2-0 lead.
West Lynn threatened in the top of the second but the Red Sox, again, left runners on second and third.
“That was tough,” Contreras said. “Batters have to swing the bat. That’s what we tell them. They have to swing the bat. We’ll see what happens next time. We played a good game but we lost it a little bit in the middle.”
The Red Sox tied the game at 2-2 in the third on a 2-RBI single from Figueroa.
Pine Hill took control in the bottom of the third, when the Reds plated six runs to claim an 8-2 lead. Consecutive doubles from Guzman, Chris Champa and McCafferty gave the Reds a 4-2 lead. William Ross Pena added a RBI single, bumping the lead to 5-2. Pine Hill closed the rally with Billy Bochnak’s RBI single and a bases loaded walk drawn by Champa.
“We changed our order around a little bit than what we’ve been doing all year,” Avery said. “Kids that haven’t contributed a lot this year, like Jason Avery and William Ross Pena, they got some big hits.”
West Lynn made things interesting in the top of the fourth with a RBI single from Medina and a 2-RBI single from Figueroa, slimming Pine Hill’s lead to 8-5.
The Reds capped the scoring with a run in the bottom of the fourth.
McCafferty kept West Lynn’s bats at bay through the remainder of the game, sealing Pine Hill’s 9-5 win.
“We lucked out because we have Willy going again Saturday,” Avery said. “That was our plan. It doesn’t always end up that way. He buckled down at the end there and got the outs when we needed them.”
With the victory, Pine Hill (2-0) advanced to Saturday’s City Series championship game. Whoever plays against the Reds must defeat them twice in order to claim the crown.
West Lynn’s (1-1) back in action Friday, in an elimination game against the winner of tomorrow’s tilt between East Lynn and Wyoma.