Highlife win big over Unknowns, advance to Twi League finals

Aug 7, 2019 by

Life-Loafers championship set for Sunday

Published August 7, 2019

By DAN BYRNE

WAKEFIELD — The Twi League Finals are set with a rematch from two seasons ago between the Loafers and Highlife, following the Highlife’s victory last night in Game 2 over the Unknowns by a 15-4 final score.

Michael Day got the ball to start the game for the Highlife, and the Twi League veteran brought his A-game. Day pitched 4.2 innings while allowing just four runs and keeping the game close for his offense to come through late.

After Bobby Pearl led off with a single, Day picked him off trying to steal second and got the next two batters to fly out to centerfield where Danny Concessi made the plays to get the Life in to bat.

Unknowns’ starter Adam Chanley was in trouble in nearly every inning, but he seemed to find ways to get out of jams without allowing a big frame. The Highlife had a threat in the first after Concessi was hit by a pitch and stole second base. After Ryan Doyle popped to second, Mark Sullivan hit a sinking line drive to left that was snagged by Pearl. Concessi, thinking the ball had landed, started for third and was too late in retreating back to the bag, getting doubled off to end the inning.

MIKE DAY delivers a called third strike to Dave Lehman of the Unknowns. Day picked up the win to send the Highlife to the finals as they go for their third straight championship. (Dan Byrne Photo)

Day walked the leadoff batter in the second inning, but got Dave Lehman to look at a called strike three, and then the next two batters flew to right where Joe Stackhouse was able to run down the flies and end the inning.

The Highlife got on the board in the second inning, as they started things off with three straight hits.

Matt Davis fisted one up the middle for a leadoff single, then Anthony Caracciolo sent one right back up the middle. Eric DiTonno delivered an RBI double to deep left centerfield to start the scoring for the Life.

Chris Dettore stepped in and slapped a one hopper to Brett Maloney over at third. The Unknowns third basemen made a fine stab and was able to throw across the diamond for the first out of the inning. The ball came right right back to Maloney off the bat of the next hitter, Jake Vezga; this time it got the better of him, allowing a run to come in on the error. Joe Stackhouse hit a hot shot Chad Dwyer’s way at shortstop and once again the Unknowns infield couldn’t come up with the ball.

After Concessi lined out to Dwyer at short, Ryan Doyle tested him for a third straight play. The usually sure handed Dwyer typically plays third base, and it showed as he couldn’t come up with Doyle’s grounder as Vezga scored to make it 4-0 Highlife.

Up next, Mark Sullivan singled and Stackhouse came around to score to increase the lead to five. After Matt Davis singled to make it first and second with two gone, Chanley got out of the inning when Carocciolo flew out to centerfield.

Bryan Butt led off the third with a single, and next batter Chanley hit a ball that looked like it could be a double play as shortstop Ryan Doyle fielded the grounder cleanly and flipped to Chris Dettorre at second who came across the bag smoothly in transition, but threw wildly to first, allowing Chanley to advance to second on the error. Chanley moved to third on a Bobby Pearl single, and would come in to score the Unknowns’ first run on a Day wild pitch. With a man in and a man on third with one out, the Unknowns were possibly in position to score more runs, but Brandon Panarese bounced back to Day, and Dwyer lined to Caracciolo at first, stranding Pearl on third base.

With the score 5-1 going into the bottom of the third, Chanley had his best inning, sitting the Highlife down in order and sending his team back up to bat.

Day got the first two outs of the top of the 4th rather quickly as Maloney popped to third and Lehman flew out to centerfield. A pair of errors by the Highlife infield saw Sean Alexander and Kevin Murray reach base before the inning ended on a Bryan Butt groundout to Nick Dettorre at second.

The bottom of the 4th saw another Highlife threat, but Chanley was able to escape the inning unscathed. Stackhouse led off with a single, then stole second base. Concessi worked a walk before Doyle hit a grounder to third that led to Stackhouse being forced out. A Mark Sullivan single to left had Concessi charging hard around third base turning to score, but a late stop sign by third base coach Mark DiNocco had Concessi scrambling to get back to the bag where he was tagged out for the second out of the inning. After Matt Davis walked to make it first and second with two away, Caracciolo flew out to end the inning.

Chanley led off the 5th against Day and grounded out to Doyle at shortstop. With the top of the order coming up, Day surrendered back-to-back singles to Pearl and Panarese, bringing up Chad Dwyer with a chance to score some runs. With the two runners advancing to scoring position, Day was able to freeze Dwyer on a 3-2 fastball for a called third strike for the inning’s second out. Day’s night would come to an end when Brett Maloney drove in Pearl and Panarese with an RBI double, then Lehman followed with an RBI double of his own and suddenly it was 5-4 Highlife.

A pitching change saw Matt Davis move from third base to the mound and he may not have been completely loose when the game restarted, as he walked the first batter he faced. A passed ball in Kevin Murray’s at bat saw the runners move to second and third, but Davis struck out Murray to end the inning with the score staying at 5-4.

Eric DiTonno was struck by a Chanley pitch to put the leadoff man on base in the Highlife’s 5th inning. Dettorre flew out to right field, and Vezga struck out for the first two outs of the inning. Next, Stackhouse sliced a sinking liner to left. As Pearl came charging in, the ball skipped passed him and rolled towards the fence. DiTonno, running from first base pulled up lame rounding third, but limped home to make it 6-4. Chanley then hit the next batter, Concessi, to put runners on the corners with two outs, but Doyle grounded out to his counterpart Dwyer at shortstop ,ending the inning with the score still 6-4.

Davis came out for the top of the 6th inning, and got Butt to ground to third base, however Vezga couldn’t make the play and Butt reached on an error. Davis struck Chanley out for the first out of the inning, but then Pearl walked and Panarese singled to load the bases. With the bases loaded and the lead runner on first base, number three hitter Chad Dwyer stepped in to face the fire baller Davis. In an epic at-bat that saw Dwyer hang in fouling off pitch after pitch, Davis won the battle inducing Dwyer to hit a comebacker right to him to start the 1-2-3 double play to end the inning without any runs coming in.

When the Highlife came to bat in the bottom of the 6th with a two-run lead, the time was approaching 7:40 p.m. and daylight was fading fast. With the game official, the Highlife made sure that the Unknowns wouldn’t have enough daylight to bat in the 7th. They rallied off nine hits, scoring nine runs and effectively ending the season for the Unknowns. After a couple of pitching changes that saw Chanley lifted for Bobby Pearl, and Pearl not recording an out before Roy Butt took over on the hill. Mercifully, Butt was able to retire the Highlife, but there was no possibility to play a 7th inning and the game ended after six complete innings with a score of 15-4.

The Finals are now set as the Loafers took out the Expos in a two-game sweep in the other semifinal matchup. A rematch of two years ago has been set up between the Highlife and Loafers in a best out of five series to begin on Sunday to determine who’ll take home the Twi League Trophy in 2019.

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