LYNN — When you take the field against your crosstown rival, you have to come ready to play. The English baseball team wasn’t ready to play Friday night and it cost the Bulldogs in a 8-4 loss to Classical at Fraser Field.
“I feel the energy was there, the moment just got too big for us unfortunately,” English coach Doug Mullins said. “We let one error spiral into many. We made four errors in the first inning. We haven’t made more than two errors in a game all season. We’re halfway through the season. That deflated us a little bit and I think we caved a little bit.”
On the mound, Aidan Dow provided another solid start for the Rams. Dow went all seven innings and allowed four earned runs with four strikeouts.
“Aidan’s a great athlete,” Classical coach Mike Zuwkowski said. “He’s going to field his position when he’s on the mound. He’s going to throw strikes, he’s good at the plate. He’s a good all-around athlete. With him and Kyle Finnigan leading us on the mound, it’s good to see.”
James Wilkins (2-for-3, three RBI, run) carried the offense with a 3-RBI double in the third inning.
Jomar Moreta (2-for-3, two RBI) paced English with a 2-RBI double and four innings pitched.
Classical made the most of four English miscues in the top of the first. Brett Bucklin reached on an error and took third base on Dow’s 2-out single. Dow took a big lead from first base and caught English’s attention, allowing Bucklin to race home with the game’s first run on an errant throw. Dow scored on another English errant throw, giving the Rams a 2-0 lead after half an inning.
“You have to take advantage of people’s mistakes,” Zukowski said. “That’s how baseball works. There’s timely hitting and good pitching but a lot of our games are won on other team’s mistakes. We did that early, we kept it going and we scored some runs in the beginning.”
Wilkins bumped the lead to 3-0 in the top of the second when he scored on Nico Galeazzi’s RBI single.
Classical plated three more runs in the top of the third. Dow started the rally with a 1-out single. Walks to Brendan Lannon and Deniel Ortiz loaded the bases for Wilkins, who cleared the bags with a 3-RBI double.
Dayshon Anderson’s RBI double on a blooper to right field and Jared DeFillipo’s RBI single cushioned Classical’s lead to 8-0.
The Bulldogs hit the ball hard from start to finish but Classical’s gloves made the plays when their numbers were called.
“Defense is huge,” Zukowski said. “We’ve been working on that in practice, with tons of ground balls. Dayshon at third and Jared at short, a lot of balls have been hit that way. (Friday), Deniel at second base, as a freshman, made the plays he needed to. We played them a little bit deep in the outfield and it worked to our advantage.”
English didn’t punch back until the bottom of the fifth. Anthony Mateo put the Bulldogs on the board with a RBI single. The rally continued with Moreta’s 2-RBI double and Andy Duverge’s sac-fly, slimming the deficit to 8-4.
“We ended up fighting back,” Mullins said, “but we put ourselves in too big a hole that we couldn’t climb out of.”
But Dow buckled down to retire six of the final seven batters he faced (Erick Ubri laced a 2-out single in the sixth), sealing the 8-4 win.
Classical (11-3) takes on Lynnfield Saturday (12:30). English (9-4) hosts Revere Monday (4). English and Classical will meet again next Friday in the opening round of the Nipper Clancy Tournament.
“I told the kids that we’re still in a good place,” Mullins said. “Losing to Classical like that hurts, for sure. We can’t just accept it but we have to move on and improve. There’s a lot in front of us. We have a rematch with Classical next Friday but we still have our goals in front of us. We have to learn from it.”