MARBLEHEAD — Coaches often buy into the notion that baseball’s about cashing in on the opportunities opponents give you. The Marblehead baseball team made the most of its chances in its season opener Wednesday at Seaside Park, scoring the game-winning run on a Swampscott error en route to a 4-3 win in eight innings.
“It’s always good anytime to get a win but you get your first win, you get a win against a rival and you get a walk-off win,” Magicians coach Mike Giardi said. “We’ll take it any way we can get it. Swampscott played great today and they’re a great team.”
After leaving the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh without pushing a run across, Marblehead loaded them again in the eighth. Pinch-hitter Godot Gaskins walked to lead the frame, swiped second and took third on a wild pitch. Brady Lavender was intentionally walked with two outs and Schuyler Schmitt was hit by a pitch. Jacob Bornstein (1-for-3) then brought Gaskins home with the winning run on a misplayed ground ball.
“We changed things up and decided to go with Gaskins who has some wheels,” Giardi said. “You can’t teach speed. It puts a lot of pressure on guys. When he does what he does on the bases it puts everybody on edge. We had three guys that can run on the bases with Schmitt, Lavender and Gaskins. That was big for us.”
Swampscott pitcher Tyler Marshall went all 7 2/3 innings. Marshall allowed one earned run on eight hits and tallied four strikeouts.
“Tyler pitched a great game,” Swampscott coach Joe Caponigro said. “He competed with every pitch. He hit his spots. A couple of those runs were unearned. We gave them some outs. Offensively we’re not executing. It’s the little things that we have to improve on.”
At the plate, the Big Blue were led by Jonathan Oriakhi, who went 4-for-4 and scored two runs. Ryan Graciale, Dylan January and Anthony Rakauskas each had one RBI.
Marblehead’s Ben Brennan went 2-for-4 with one RBI. Lavender (2-for-3) and Schmitt (1-for-3) drove in a run each.
Oriakhi got Swampscott started on the right foot with a triple from the leadoff spot in the top of the first inning. January brought Oriakhi home with a sacrifice fly to put the Big Blue on the board.
Swampscott continued to manufacture runs through the next two innings. Rakauskas plated Nick Reiser with a two-out RBI single in the top of the second. Graciale bumped Swampscott’s lead to 3-0 with a sacrifice fly, scoring Oriakhi in the third.
Marblehead struggled to get a good read on Marshall, who cruised through the first three innings before running into trouble in the bottom of the fourth. RBI singles from Brennan, Lavender and Schmitt tied the game at 3-3.
“I think the guys got a little more comfortable,” Giardi said. “It’s the first game, you get those first-game jitters at the plate. You’re not as smooth, you’re a bit jumpy. The guys did a nice job making some adjustments. The big thing is you have to put the ball in play.”
Things quieted down from there. Magicians starter Chris Gally weathered the storm through four innings pitched (three earned runs, five hits, three strikeouts). Bornstein followed in relief and kept Swampscott quiet through four innings.
“Chris had only been up to about 40-50 pitches in preseason,” Giardi said. “Even though it was a nice day we didn’t want to extend him too much. We figured we’d change it up a little bit. Jacob’s got a little different action on his ball. He has a great breaking ball that kept them off balance and got some outs when he needed to.”
Both teams stranded runners on base in the bottom of the seventh. Bornstein retired Swampscott in order in the top of the eighth, setting himself up to seal the walk-off win in the bottom half of the inning.
The Magicians (1-0) visit Winthrop Thursday (4). Swampscott (1-2) hosts Northeast Saturday (10).
“The silver lining with this game is it’s the best game we’ve played,” Caponigro said. “If we get pitching performances like that, tighten up the defense, we’re going to be alright. Losing against our rival always hurts but the kids competed.”