Brewers are Twi Finals bound

Aug 9, 2018 by

Fiore closes game two; Millea beats Loafers in game three

MATT FIORE got the final three outs of game two followed by three innings of shutout ball in game three last night at Moulton Field against the Loafers. (Dan Pawlowski Photo)

Published in the August 9, 2018 edition.

By DAN PAWLOWSKI

WAKEFIELD — Technically, the Loafers had a 1-0 lead when the boys met up at Moulton last night. The Brewers needed three more outs to complete Monday’s postponed game two and officially tie the series.

Matt Fiore continued where he left off on the mound. The Loafers threatened when Taylor Robinson singled with one out and advanced to second on a ground out, but Fiore got Justin Sensabaugh to fly out to stamp game two as a 12-11 Brewers win.

After a brief celebration with his teammates, Fiore and the Brewers ran right back out on the field to start game three.

THE BREWERS congratulate Brian Millea (center) for getting out of trouble in the 5th inning. Millea shut out the Loafers in four innings of relief to close out game three and send the Brew Crew on to the Twi League Finals. (Dan Pawlowski Photo)

The trend so far in the 2018 Twi League Playoffs has been high-scoring, sun-setting, lets-finish-this-in-48-hours baseball with both series needing an extra day to complete game two.

The initial assumption was that, especially with the extra outs, a continuation would happen again in game three. But the final game in a series is typically much different than previous slugfests.

In that pattern, the swings shortened up, the defenses stepped up and the Brewers pitching combination of Matt Fiore and Brian Millea shut down the Loaf for a 3-0 victory.

Fiore was dominant during his three innings to start the game, allowing just two hits and no runs while striking out two and walking one.

Millea was even more impressive, closing the game in four innings, striking out three, walking none and allowing just two hits (one depending on how you scored a tough ground ball in the 6th).

Connor O’Brien put together a quality start for the Loafers. He shut down the Brewers through three and allowed just one run in the 4th and two in the 5th.

Fiore got both strikeouts in the first inning, fanning O’Brien and getting Taylor Robinson on some high cheddar. He allowed just one hit in the second to Sensabaugh before Timmy Hurley made a nice play at second base on a grounder from Joe Galli to end the inning.

The Brewers rallied with two outs in the bottom of the second when Mike Greer hit a frozen rope base hit to left and Millea reached on an error. Hurley hit a grounder to third where Galli tagged Greer to end the frame.

Fiore cruised again in the top of the 3rd, with just a walk to Jared Pavey the only thing separating him from a one-two-three inning.

Fiore followed that with a one-out poke down the left field line for a double in the bottom of the 3rd, but O’Brien got the next two batters to both fly out to centerfielder James Beaton.

In came Millea for the Brew Crew in the top of the 4th of a fast-moving stressful game. Millea sat down Robinson, Sal Mendonca and Beaton in order on two fly outs and a ground out.

The Brewers finally broke through in the bottom of the 4th. Drew Betts legged out a grounder to second to start the inning. O’Brien came right back to strike out Tom Leahy and get Mike Greer to fly out.

Up stepped Millea.

Although a longtime leader of the team, Millea hadn’t played much in this series. Apparently he was just saving his energy for this moment.

The righty connected and sent one neatly into the gap in deep right-center to easily score Betts from second and causing a collective exhale on the Brewer bench followed by an adrenaline-filled rendition of “Roll out the barrel.” (Not really. But they were pumped).

Millea rode that wave into the top of the 5th where he quickly sat down the Loafers in order, striking out Sensabaugh and Galli in the process.

The Brewers got started on some insurance paperwork in the bottom of the 5th. John Zagaria led off with a single, much to the delight of Wakefield legend Patsy Zagaria watching from behind the plate.

Matt Fiore followed with another base hit up the middle and John Halsey kept it going with another single that Zagaria would score on, as the centerfield wheeled around third and made it with no play at the plate for a 2-0 lead.

Mike Fiore hit into a 4-6 fielder’s choice but it advanced his brother to third.

The Loafers made a change to Garrett Cole who was throwing fireballs from the second he touched the mound, but Betts put together a great at-bat, getting one up to the outfield and allowing Fiore to tag from third for a 3-0 Brewers lead.

Pavey and Matt Russo both reached base sandwiched around an out by O’Brien. Both Pavey and Russo sent tough grounders to second that couldn’t be handled by Hurley who had been very busy and made every play up to that point.

So, with runners at first and second, Millea battled Robinson. Catcher John Halsey made a nice stop in the dirt to keep the runners where they were and Millea won the fight, freezing Robinson on a called strike three. Mendonca ended the inning by flying out to right.

In the top of the 7th with a three-run cushion, Millea set his sights on closing it out and sending the Brew Crew on to the finals.

Beaton led off with a base hit, but Sensabaugh and Galli both popped up to short and Cole grounded out.

It was over in a flash, just before a wave of lightning; a polar opposite of game two’s thunderous slugfest.

The Brewers will play the winner of tonight’s madness at Moulton between the Highlife and Expos. The Life won game one, but the Expos lead 10-3 in a postponed game two. The conclusion of that game, plus a likely game three will follow.

If it’s anything like this series, it will be a fast trip to the finals for one team and an even more abrupt exit home for another.

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