Highlife stay alive with contentious game three victory

Aug 15, 2019 by

Loafers lead 2-1; game four tonight

Published in the August 15, 2019 edition.

By DAN BYRNE

WAKEFIELD—The Highlife have a scorekeeper, and he goes by “Hog”.

He’s the loudest guy on the sidelines of any given Highlife game in the Twi League.

His boisterous encouragement fires up the crowd and players alike.

If you’re a player on an opposing team, it’s probably best to just ignore him.

If you can’t, and gets in your head, he’s won.

That’s just what happened last night in game three of the Twi League Finals down at Moulton Park.

We pick it up in the top of the 5th, with the Loafers looking a championship right in the face leading 8-4 in the game and 2-0 in the best of five series.

Taylor Robinson had pitched the first four innings and held the Highlife to four runs.

As Matt Davis stepped in, Hog’s cheers and jeers grew louder.

Davis made Robinson work, fouling off pitch after pitch, and you could see the frustration building in Robinson every time a shout came from the Highlife bench area.

Robinson struck Davis out for the first out of the inning.

Highlife first baseman Anthony Caracciolo stepped in and his at bat took a similar development arc to Davis’, with Caracciolo fouling off several pitches.

One two-strike pitch was cranked right off of Caracciolo’s foot, causing him to hobble in some pain. It was no pain, no gain for Caracciolo as he won the battle, squeaking one up the middle and through to centerfield.

Unable to circle the bases, the Highlife had Max Marchino pinch run. As Hog’s excitement grew on the Highlife sideline, Robinson entered a battle with Eric DiTonno.

Having thrown many pitches to this point, Robinson’s command started to wane. He uncorked a wild one to the backstop allowing the runner to get to second. Robinson settled in and got DiTonno to go down swinging for the first out.

Tommy Sheerin stepped in and Robinson couldn’t find the zone. As Sheerin worked a walk, the volume increased on the Highlife sidelines. Next up, Jake Vezga slapped one to the right side of the infield and beat the throw as the ball got away allowing Marchino to score the fifth Highlife run.

At 8-5, Robinson came back and got Anthony Cecere to go down on strikes ending the inning.

As Robinson came off the hill, he could be heard yelling back at the Life bench. His headspace had been entered.

In the bottom of the 5th, Mike Day was in relief of Nick Dettorre who had pitched the first two innings. Day entered in the 3rd and pitched through the 5th.

In the 5th, the Loafers had the leadoff man on as Dan Cardillo worked a walk. He then stole second base on Day with Jared Pavey at the dish, who popped to second. Jake Vezga broke towards right field as the flair threatened to find some green over his head. Vezga extended his left arm and stuck his glove out, snaring the ball for the inning’s first out.

The next batter, Connor O’Brien, lined one towards Vezga, who stabbed the liner and doubled Cardillo off of second. An uproarious cheer went up from the Highlife bench as the inning ended.

With Robinson back on the hill, deep into his pitch count, the Highlife sent the top of their order to the plate in the top of the 6th inning.

Dan Concessi started the rally, as the Highilfe trailed 8-5. Back-to-back singles from Concessi and Ryan Doyle brought Mark Sullivan to the plate.

Robinson’s command had betrayed him, and Sullivan was hit by a pitch loading the bases. Up stepped Davis and he lined a base hit to left scoring Concessi and Doyle to make it 8-7.

Marchino stepped in and hit a groundball to short that Pavey flipped to Cole at second for the first out, but couldn’t turn over the double play, and it was first and third.

DiTonno stepped in and crushed a base hit to left, scoring Sullivan to tie the game at 8-8.

Next, Sheerin stepped up against Robinson, and after looking over-matched on the first two swings, he connected with a two-strike pitch, singling to load the bases.

After Robinson got Vezga to go down on strikes, Cecere got up for the second time in as many innings.

As Robinson’s pitch count grew and he began to tire, Cecere ripped one down the line in right, clearing the bases with a triple.

That ended Robinson’s day, in a game where he held an 8-4 lead after four innings, he exited trailing 11-8 in the sixth.

Jordan Fauci came in to relieve Robinson and got Concessi to ground back to the pitcher to end the inning, but the Loaf’s rusty cage had been rattled and the Highlife took the lead.

Matt Davis came in to pitch the sixth for the Highlife and the Loafers couldn’t do anything with him, as he retired the side in order, striking out one.

In the top of the 7th Fauci allowed a leadoff single to Doyle, but afterwards got the Highlife to go down 1-2-3 and the game went to the last of the 7th with the Highlife in front 11-8.

Daylight was fading, and some on the Highlife sideline had felt it foolish to even start the seventh, but after the Highlife’s Mark DiNocco had an emotional discussion with the base umpire, they continued to play at Moulton.

Matt Russo worked a leadoff walk for the Loafers and moved into scoring position as Davis issued a walk to Sal Mendonca. Back-to-back strikeouts of Garrett Cole and Cardillo saw the Loafers turnover to the top of the order with two away. Rob Cornetta worked a walk, loading the bases for Connor O’Brien. As Davis struggled to pick up the catcher’s mitt in the darkness, O’Brien lined a single to right, scoring Russo to make it 11-9. With the bases loaded once again, James Beaton stepped in looking to spark a comeback. The first pitch was a called strike that rubbed Beaton the wrong way, causing him to have words with the home plate umpire. A message of, “Its getting dark, swing the bat,” conveyed Beaton to get back in the box, then foul off a pitch for strike two, before being called out looking on strike three to end the game.

An exchange of words spiced up the end of the night, as the two teams walked off the field. The Loafers no doubt are lamenting the missed opportunity to finish off the defending champs, as the series heads into a fourth game tonight.

It ended up being a come from behind win, but the Highlife actually staked themselves out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, with Dan Concessi hitting a leadoff single and stealing 2nd to move into scoring position. Later With two away, Caracciolo stroked a two-run double to put the Highlife on top.

Nick Dettorre was on the mound to start for the Highlife, and despite being handed a 2-0 lead, he was unable to protect it. Jared Pavey led off with a comebacker that Dettorre fielded, but threw wildly to first allowing Pavey to advance to second . A single by Connor O’Brien made it 2-1. It was 2-2 after James Beaton grounded to second and Chris Dettorre made a costly error. After Justin Sencabaugh was hit by a pitch, Matt Russo lifted a sac fly to make it 3-2.

The Highlife were able to tie the score at 3 in the second inning. Joe Stackhouse ripped a two-out single and stole second base. Concessi lined a double, scoring Stackhouse and tying the game at 3-3.

Dettorre landed in some trouble in the second. Pavey and O’Brien singled to put two on and one out, before Beaton hit into a fielder’s choice to make it 1st and 3rd with two gone. Robinson stepped in and smashed a two-out, two-run double, making it 5-3 Loafers.

Day came in for Dettorre to pitch the third and got the first two outs quickly before Cole singled and stole second and Cardillo drove him home with a base hit. Day got out of the inning as Pavey grounded out to his counterpart Doyle at shortstop.

The Highlife got an unearned run in the 4th as Jake Vezga led off with a base hit to left. Loafer’s left fielder Cardillo saw the ball skip by him, and Vezga wound up on 2nd base. With a man on 3rd, Concessi turned on one and one hopped it off Russo at first base. Vezga came in as the ball kicked into right field to make the score 6-4. Robinson struck Doyle out and got Sullivan to pop to third base to hold the score there.

The Loafers got two more runs off Day in the bottom of the fourth as Beaton smashed a one-out double. He moved to third as Robinson grounded out and Sencabaugh worked a walk. Sencabaugh moved up stealing 2nd before Matt Russo grounded one through the infield scoring Beaton and Sencabaugh as the lead extended to 8-4.

Game four will be tonight and there promises to be some fireworks, as the Loafers take a second crack at closing out the series, holding a slim 2-1 lead.

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