Five-run 6th pushes Merchants past Malden in regular season finale

Aug 9, 2019 by

Playoffs start on Sunday at Walsh Field

Published on the August 9, 2019 edition.

By DAN BYRNE

WAKEFIELD — The Merchants wrapped up their regular season in winning form, as they took on the Malden Maddogs on Wednesday at Walsh Field.

The Merchants came in riding a hot streak having won three out of four games in August and seven out of their last 10 games. They kept their momentum, taking home a victory in the season’s final game, topping Malden 6-2.

It was Mike Andrews on the mound to start the game for the ‘Chants, and though he allowed a one-out double to Sean Dohery, he got the final two batters to pop to short and fly to center, stranding Doherty at third.

The Merchants got the lead runner on when Jon Luders was hit by a pitch from Malden starter Zak Levine. He moved into scoring position a few pitches later as he stole second base. Dillon Koster and Bobby Losanno followed him with a pair of fly-outs to left field, before Levine walked Tyler Lyne. With two on and two out, Levine got Anthony Cecere to groundout to second base ending the inning with Luders left in scoring position.

Shane O’Halleran worked a leadoff walk against Andrews, and came around to score all the way from first when the next batter Ethan Harris smashed a double. Andrews would see his team fall behind 2-0 as he then surrendered three straight singles to the 7th, 8th , and 9th hitters. With the bases loaded and the top of the order coming up, Andrews settled in and got leadoff man Jack Whorf to pop to second base, then he struck out Doherty. That left Andrews to face the Intercity Leagues’ leading hitter Derek Bauer, who came in at 34 for 65, a .523 average. For a second time in as many innings Andrews got Bauer to pop to short, this time leaving the bases loaded. Bauer took an 0-4 on the day, dropping his average all the way down to .493.

Trailing 2-0 heading to the bottom of the 2nd, the Merchants got the lead runner on just like they did in the first, this time when Ryan Collins was hit by a pitch. He was subsequently erased as Jake Nardone bounced into a 4-6-3 double play. Levine struck Kevin Lucey out ending the inning.

Andrews allowed a one-out single to O’Halleran in the top of the 3rd, but got the next batter to fly to left, and struck out PJ McDonald, ending the Maddogs’ half of the inning.

Levine struck Bryant Dana out to lead off the bottom of the 3rd but hit Jon Luders for a second time to put one on with one out. Just like the first time, Luders stole 2nd and got into scoring position. Levine held Luders at second for one batter, as Dillon Koster grounded back to the pitcher for the second out of the inning. With two away and a man on second, Levine squared off with Losanno. Losanno got the better of Levine, slapping a single into left field, and Luders raced around third to score the Merchants’ first run. Losanno moved into scoring position, stealing second base on Levine’s high leg kick, but the inning ended when Tyler Lyne got into one, sending a high fly ball to left, but the left fielder ran it down for the inning’s third out.

Wakefield High graduate Robert Shaw came in from the Merchant’s bullpen to start the 4th inning, taking over for Andrews after going three innings allowing two runs on six hits, walking one and striking out two. Shaw came in and pitched a perfect 4th, getting the side to retire in order.

Geoff Lopez came in to pitch for Malden, and the first two batters he faced went down quietly with Cecere lifting a high fly to left field, and Collins going down swinging. Lopez ran into some trouble as Nardone singled with two outs, and then Lucey hit one to third, which the third base man threw wildly to first base, putting runners on second and third. Lopez got out of the jam, striking Bryant Dana out, stranding runners at second and third.

Shaw shut Malden down in the 5th inning, getting the first two batters he faced to pop to first and fly to left. With two away, Shaw had a pitch narrowly graze the arm of Cal Christofori, but he got out of the inning unscathed as O’Halleran flew out to left.

The Merchants got the lead runner on in scoring position as Luders lined a double down the left field line. They had the first two men on as Koster worked a walk, but Losanno struck out looking, and Lyne popped out to first. A two out infield single by Cecere failed to bring Luders home, and Ryan Collins was called out on strikes with the bases loaded to end the inning with the score still 2-1 Malden.

Shaw got the first two outs in the sixth, before allowing back-to-back singles by the 8th and 9th hitters in the Malden order Jared Beniers and Henry Butterfield. At the top of the order, Jack Whorf was called out on strikes, leaving two men on base.

Trailing by two runs heading into the bottom of the 6th, daylight was fading on the Merchants; they needed a rally. They delivered with a five-run 6th inning.

Jake Nardone led off with a double to the gap in left center field. Then Lucey hit a hot shot to shortstop that got through his legs into the outfield. With two on and none out, Dana worked a walk to load the bases with the top of the order coming up.

With nowhere to put him, Luders lined a single to left, bringing home Nardone and Lucey. After Koster struck out for the inning’s first out, Losanno walked to load the bases. With the bases loaded and Lyne at the plate, Dana came home on a balk. Lyne flew out to right for the 2nd out, but Cesere singled home Losanno to make it 6-2. The inning ended when Collins flew out to left.

As the game headed into the top of the 7th, nighttime was approaching quickly. Merchants’ Manager Dave Ellegood made a pitching change to start the inning, bringing in Marc Metivier. Malden got the leadoff runner on when Doherty singled. He would come around to score as Metivier uncorked a series of wild pitches, with darkness possibly being the attributing factor. After Bauer grounded to first to complete his 0-4, Metivier hit Christofori with a pitch. At this point, Manager Ellegood when to make a mid-inning pitching change, but the umpires determined that not another pitch would be thrown, and called the game for darkness.

The win locks the Merchants into 3rd place in the standings with a 16-12 record, as they head into the playoffs next week.

After the game, Merchants manager, Dave Ellegood talked about the season.

“Since July 1st we went 12-4,” he said, making note of his team’s strong run of form.

“We just grinded it out, our pitching staff has really locked down. We ended up being 16-12, I think last year we were 17-11 and got the No. 2 seed,” Ellegood said.

“This league is wide open this year. Like I was saying to the boys, if we get some clutch pitching, clutch hitting, and some defense we can make some noise.”

A change in the Intercity League playoff format has Ellegood excited about his team’s chances, “This year we’re not doing 2 out of 3, 3 out of 5, 3 out of 5, we’re going 2 out of 3, 2 out of 3, 3 out of 5, so if you sneak that first game anybody can make noise.”

Round one of the playoffs begin Sunday at 3 p.m. with the Merchants hosting an opponent yet to be determined.

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