It’s tough to score when you don’t hit.
Nobody knows that better than the Lynnfield baseball team, which saw its three-game winning streak snapped Saturday by league archrival North Reading at the Pitching in for Pete Frates ALS game at Fraser Field in Lynn, falling to the Hornets 7-1.
Lynnfield starter Matt Fiore took the loss. In 4 ⅓ innings, he gave up four earned runs on eight hits, two hit batsmen, a walk and one strikeout.
The Pioneers had no answers for Hornets’ lefty Cole Doke. In six innings, he gave up three hits, two of them of the infield variety. He struck out four and walked one.
“We came in after a couple of wins and, again, came in not ready to play,” said Pioneer coach John O’Brien. “We made errors on routine plays. We walked too many people and hit two, and then just were not swinging the bats. North Reading was going at it aggressively, but we were not and had too many kids taking too many pitches. There wasn’t too much good to say after this one.”
North Reading (6-6) took advantage of a pair of Pioneer errors to get on the board first in the top of the third. Leadoff hitter Ryan Veneziano raced all the way to third when his fly ball to right was dropped. Michael Vittozzi reached on a fielder’s choice with Veneziano gunned down at the plate, Jonathan Luders to Jaret Simpson. Three batters later with two outs and the bases loaded, Vittozzi scored when Doke’s routine ground ball to second was thrown away.
Lynnfield answered right back in its half of the inning. Luke Martinho walked and stole second. Jonathan Luders (1-for-3) moved him to third with a ground out to short, then John Singer (1-for-3) plated Martinho with a clutch 2-out single off the glove of shortstop Jimmy Currier to tie the game at 1-1.
The Pioneers dodged a huge bullet in the fourth. After three straight singles, the Hornets had the bases loaded with no outs.Vittozzi chopped a grounder to Fiore, who fired to Simpson at home to get the lead runner. Simpson then doubled up Vittozzi at first. A routine fly ball to Clay Marengi in center field ended the threat.
Lynnfield’s luck ran out in the fifth. North Reading strung five straight hits off Fiore to start the inning and batted through the order, plus one. By the time the dust settled, the Hornets led, 5-1.
After North Reading added to its lead with a run in the sixth, Lynnfield let a chance to get back in the game slip away in the bottom of the frame. Luders led off with a single to right and advanced to second on a passed ball. Two batters later, Marengi (1-for-3) was hit, giving the Pioneers runners at first and second with one out. But an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play killed the threat.
Phil Tammaro relieved Will Garofoli (1 ⅔ innings, 3 hits, 2 walks) in the seventh. He struck out one and walked one.
Lynnfield’s last-gasp effort came in the bottom of the seventh. Garofoli led off with a walk only to be stranded.
For O’Brien, it’s crunch time.
“We have a big game Tuesday against Pentucket,” O’Brien said. “As far as I am concerned, if we don’t win that, we’re not going to win the league.
“None of the rest of the season will be easy. We have four tough non-league games against Lynn Classical, Burlington, Belmont or Reading and then Wakefield plus Newburyport, Masco and Pentucket. We need to get tough and play tough.”