Lynnfield baseball cruises in Division 3 North tournament

Matt Fiore was 2-for-3 with three RBI. (Kristine Marengi)

LYNNFIELD — On a beautiful, sun-splashed Saturday afternoon at Lynnfield High, the No. 3 Lynnfield baseball team opened the Division 3 North tournament with a wild 14-5 win over No. 19 Wayland.

Trailing 4-2 going into the bottom of the fifth inning, the Pioneers plated seven runs, all without benefit of a base hit, to take the lead for good.

Clay Marengi got the start and picked up the win. In five innings, he allowed five runs, all of them unearned, gave up four hits, struck out three, hit two and walked two. He  helped his own cause at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a 2-run homer and three RBI.

“Today it was just a question of hitting the ball,”  said Lynnfield coach John O’Brien. “We knew that we would see only fastballs so I thought we would win the game but also thought we would play a little better defensively, but the kids stuck together today. All around, I think our kids played well.”

The Pioneers got off to a great start. Marengi breezed through a 1-2-3 top of the first, then drilled a fastball over the left field fence to make it 2-0.

Things went south in the top of the second. Four Pioneers errors, two hit batters and a walk opened the door for Wayland to score four unearned runs and take a 4-2 lead.

“We got up and we kind of laid back thinking we would win because that’s what we do, but all of a sudden we had a couple of mistakes and they had a base hit and, boom, it’s 4-2,” O’Brien said.

After that, pitching ruled for the next three innings until Lynnfield went small ball in the fifth.

Luke Martinho, Brian Carderelli (1-for-2, run) and Jonathan Luders (1-for-2, 3 runs) drew three straight walks to load the bases for John Singer. Singer (1-for-3, run, RBI) also walked to bring Martinho home and make it a 4-3 game. Marengi then reached on a fielder’s choice, with Cardarelli thrown out at  home on a force. Next up was designated hitter Fernando Gonzalez (1-for-3, 2 RBI, run). With an 0-1 count, Wayland’s catcher attempted to pick off Luders at second, but his throw sailed into center field, allowing Luders to score from third. Wayland’s center fielder took the overthrow and threw it into the Pioneers dugout, allowing SInger to also score and give the Pioneers a 5-4 lead.

But the fun was just beginning for the Pioneers. Will Garofoli’s grounder to third was booted, bringing Marengi home with Garofoli scampering safely to second. Matt Fiore (2-for-3, 3 RBI, run) laid down a perfectly-placed squeeze bunt to bring home pinch runner Cole Giannasca (running for Gonzalez). After the throw to first to get Fiore at first went into right field, Garofoli (2-for-4, 2 runs, RBI) also scored and Fiore ended up on third.

O’Brien sensed he was on to something, calling for another squeeze. Jaret Simpson (1-for-3, RBI) laid it down perfectly along the third base line to plate Fiore and make it 9-4

“I thought I heard someone say, ‘how many squeezes are you going to call’,” said O’Brien laughing. “And all I could think of was, I’ll keep doing it until you stop me. We took advantage of what they gave us. Credit to the kids, sometimes things like working on bunts can be mundane, but that paid off today. But we righted the ship and kept telling the kids they needed to stay with it.”

After the long half inning, Marengi walked Wayland’s leadoff batter on four pitches and was lifted for Garofoli. He gave up one run in the top of the sixth on a passed ball, but the Pioneers got that run back and more in their half of the inning to stretch the lead to 14-5.

Brian Cardarelli started the rally with a single. Luders beat out a bunt, then both runners moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. Marengi singled home Cardarelli, then Gonzalez blasted a 2-run double into the corner in right to make it 12-5. Fiore capped the scoring with a 2-run triple, scoring Gonzalez and Garofoli (on base with an infield hit).

Garofoli set down the side in order in the seventh to seal the win.

Next up for Lynnfield is archrival North Reading at home Monday in the quarterfinals. The teams split their two-game series in the regular season.

“They killed us in the second game, so we have to play better defense and throw strikes,” O’Brien said. “They are notorious for taking advantage of our mistakes. They play a lot of short ball like we do, so it should be a good matchup.”

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