LYNN — A dominant outing from pitcher Skyler Smith and a seven-run rally in the top of the fourth proved to be the winning formula for the Saugus baseball team in Monday’s 9-2 victory over Classical at Fraser Field.
Smith, a senior, didn’t overpower the Rams. He pitched to contact, opening the door for his teammates make plays behind him. The Sachems didn’t let him down.
“The day goes to Skyler,” Saugus coach Joe Luis said. “We had a misplayed ball in the outfield that could’ve been caught and it could’ve been a shutout. Our first baseman, CJ Graffeo, made three great catches over his shoulder. We didn’t give Classical the ability to take more swings, which helped. Third baseman Travis Paglarulo made some really big plays for us in his first game on varsity.”
Smith allowed two earned runs on five hits. He helped his own cause with two RBI, finishing 0-for-2 with a sac-fly and a walk.
Classical scored both its runs in the bottom of the third when Aidan Dow, Smith’s counterpart, laced a 2-RBI double. But the Rams couldn’t find their footing after Saugus’ big fourth inning.
“We had absolutely no answer,” Classical coach Mike Zukowski said. “Different at-bats, different approaches, different everything. We were a different team after we got knocked down. Saugus put it on us. Double-steals, a couple bunts, bloop singles. They took advantage of some of our mistakes. We didn’t know how to get back from that.”
Saugus struck first when Smith plated Grant Rust (2-for-4, two RBI) with a RBI groundout in the top of the second. Dow’s 2-RBI double, scoring Kyle Durant and Dayshon Anderson, gave the Rams a 2-1 lead in the third.
Consecutive walks to Graffeo and Jackson Stanton, followed by Jack Devereaux’s (2-for-3) single, loaded the bases for Saugus with no outs in the top of the fourth. Then the wheels fell off for Classical.
Rust tied the game at 2-2 with a RBI single. Smith’s sac-fly gave Saugus a 3-2 lead. Devereaux sprinted home on a passed ball, bumping the lead to 4-2. Back-to-back RBI singles from Anthony Colgiano (1-for-2, RBI) and Ronnie Paolo (1-for-3, RBI) put Saugus up 6-2. Zack Falasca (2-for-4, three RBI) capped the inning with a 2-RBI single and the Sachems were in full control with an 8-2 lead.
“That’s definitely the best inning we’ve had all year,” Luis said. “We’ve had a tough time finding and scoring runs but we strung together three or four hits. That’s what we’ve been working on in practice, being able to keep that line going. Once we start doing that, hitting becomes contagious.”
Classical had just three hits the rest of the way. Durant (1-for-3) and Ronald Torres (1-for-3) hit consecutive two-out singles in the bottom of the fourth but Smith worked his way out of the jam. Dow (1-for-3, two RBI) drew a two-out walk in the fifth and Brendan Lannon reached via error but, again, Smith escaped the inning unscathed.
“Smith pitched a great game,” Zukowski said. “He made us swing at his pitches. You could see it all game long.”
Falasca sealed the scoring with a RBI single in the sixth, bringing Ryan Beliveau (1-for-2), who led the inning with a single, home.
The silver lining for Classical was a solid performance from freshman pitcher Anthony Marino, who tossed two innings in relief of Dow. Marino allowed two hits with three strikeouts.
“Anthony came in and threw strikes,” Zukowski said. “He did what he was supposed to do. He threw his curveball for strikes. That was nice to see. It was promising.”
Classical (6-3) hopes to bounce back Wednesday (7) when the Rams host Medford at Fraser.
Saugus (7-2) hosts Winthrop in make-up game Tuesday (3:30) at World Series Park.