Taking advantage of opportunities is vital when the second season kicks in. Playing against other playoff-caliber teams often means second chances are rare.
When the Lynnfield High School baseball team saw a golden opportunity before them in the first inning of its Division 3 North Sectional first round encounter with Arlington Catholic they seized the moment.
After back-to-back bases loaded fielder’s choices yielded no runs, Pioneers outfielder Craig Anderson cranked the first pitch he saw over the right field fence for a grand slam, his first of four hits on the afternoon, powering the home team to an 11-8 victory.
Lynnfield now travels to Bishop Fenwick on Monday at 4 p.m. for a quarterfinal matchup.
“I was just hoping to hit the ball and get on base,” said Anderson of his second home run of the year and first varsity grand slam. “It is the playoffs and everyone was amped up. It was a good feeling.”
On the other side of the diamond Cougars head coach Chris Hall saw an opportunity lost.
“We had two chances to turn double plays (on the fielder’s choices) and then (Lynnfield) cashes in,” he said. “You can’t miss opportunities to get outs and give them second chances.”
Lynnfield added three more runs in the second inning for a 7-1 lead. Dylan Costa (2 for 5) drove in Patrick Yee, who had been hit by a pitch, and after the Cougars got the second out of the inning Chris Klotzbier (2 for 4) and Anderson stroked back-to-back, run-scoring singles.
Pioneers coach John O’Brien said that Anderson was one of his top offensive threats this season, but when he gets to the field he doesn’t know who will step up.
“Anderson was the driving force today, but we’ve been like that all year,” he said. “Someone different always comes through.”
While Lynnfield was cruising offensively, pitcher Ben Kendrew (6 innings, 5 hits, 3 runs) was mowing down the visitors from Arlington. Through four innings he allowed only one hit and one run – a second inning sacrifice fly by Mike Brent, plating Wesoloski. He didn’t allow another hit until the fifth inning.
“Ben battled the entire game,” said O’Brien. “He made the big pitches when he needed to. But I expect that from him.”
Carmine DiCesare (2 for 2, 2 walks, 3 RBI) hit a two-run double in the fourth inning as the lead ballooned to 10-1.
Despite the none-run deficit after four innings, Arlington Catholic battled back, scoring twice in the fifth on RBI-singles by Wesoloski (3 for 4) and John Byrne.
The game got real interesting in the top of the seventh inning when the Cougars plated five runs to creep to within 11-8 and had runners on second and third when Lynnfield’s third pitcher of the game, Chris Dehuelle got the final out of the game.
Wesoloski led off the inning with a home run. Tim Conroy stroked a two-run single and Bob Mello had a RBI in the inning.
“The kids battled all year and I am proud of them for battling today,” said Hall.
“I knew Arlington Catholic would be tough (to the end),” said O’Brien. “I have several of them on my Senior Babe Ruth team and they never quit.”
John Festa and Pete Franchi also had multiple hits for Lynnfield, with two apiece.