LOWELL — The No. 3 Lynnfield baseball team got it done in every phase of the game in Wednesday’s 6-3 win over No. 2 Gloucester in the Division 3 North semifinal at Edward A. LeLacheur Park.
Pioneers pitchers Clayton Marengi and Will Garofoli shined in the win. Marengi got the start and threw 4 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on four hits and five walks with four strikeouts. Garofoli, who also went 2-for-4 at the plate and knocked in a pair of runs, closed out the win with a perfect 2 1/3 innings, striking out three.
“Our kids came to play (Wednesday),” Lynnfield coach John O’Brien said. “We played perfect defense, had some timely hitting, got the bat on the ball and our two pitchers were outstanding. Clayton on short rest gave us 4 2/3 and then Will came in and shut the door. Will also had two big RBI, so those two kids kind of led the way a little bit.”
John Singer (1-for-2, walk, sac bunt) also had an impact at the plate with one RBI and one run. Matthew Fiore also had one RBI.
With only one day to prepare for the Fishermen, O’Brien credited his team for getting the job done.
“We knew (Gloucester) was really good team,” O’Brien said. “They hit the ball and we knew it. Our coaches did a fantastic job getting the kids ready. They scouted right on with the stuff that we had. It’s a real credit to them. And then the kids followed the game plan and the two pitchers did a fantastic job.”
Gloucester got on the board first with a leadoff single and a pair of walks loading the bases in the second inning. Marengi missed the mark on a wild pitch and Lucas Melanson scored to put the Fishermen ahead 1-0.
But Lynnfield answered with Luke Martinho, Brian Cardarelli and Singer all drawing walks to load the bases with one out. Martinho scored on a passed ball and Fernando Gonzalez kept the inning going with another walk to load the bases. Garofoli came through with the Pioneers’ first hit of the night and it was a big one, knocking in two runs to give Lynnfield a 3-1 lead. Fiore capped the rally next with a 1-run single to stretch the Pioneers lead to 4-1.
“We’ve worked on discipline at the plate all year long and it seems to have paid off,” O’Brien said. “Sometimes we chased early in the year. Toward the middle of the year we were swinging at bad pitches, now we’re letting that stuff go. It’s much more focused because the coaches are getting that into their heads.”
The Fishermen took a pair of runs back in the fifth inning. E.J. Field laced a single and stole second to start the inning off before Zach Abbott reaches on a walk. A few batters later Melanson laced a two-run double to left field to cut the Pioneers lead to 4-3. Garofoli relieved Marengi to get Lynnfield out of the fifth.
But the Pioneers responded again with two runs in the sixth. An error and a single from Cardarelli put runners on first and second. Jonathan Luders hit a fly ball into foul territory along the first base line and Martinho pulled off some smart base running, tagging to third base and scoring on an errant throw to give the Pioneers a 5-3 lead. John Singer came through next with a RBI single to stretch the lead to 6-3.
Garofoli dominated in the last two innings. The right-hander was perfect in the sixth and seventh innings, striking out three to seal the win.
“Gloucester’s a great team,” O’Brien said. “They came right back at us. It’s a credit to our kids, they fought for a couple more runs and we were lucky to have Will come in and close the door. You never know what can happen. We knew we had a battle. We were just able to get some hits, play a little small ball and get a little luck. We’ll take all of the above to win these games.”
The Pioneers move on to the Division 3 North final where they’ll take on No. 4 Bishop Fenwick at Alumni Field in Lowell Saturday (3).
“Fenwick is a really good team,” O’Brien said. “Russ (Steeves) does a great job at Fenwick. He’s a friend of mine. We’ve watched them play, but again we have to play well. We have to come and play like we did tonight. I’m sure it will be a battle.”