By Conor Walsh
---- — DANVERS — As the regular season winds down, it’s not rare for a coach to find himself going deep into the well as his depth runs thin.
Gloucester baseball coach Joe Orlando was forced to deal with that kind of situation last night when the Fishermen took on NEC South champion Danvers at Twi Field.
With ace pitcher Jason Vizena having thrown on Monday and regular starters Lenny Taormina (personal reasons) and Sean Gillon (rest) unavailable, Orlando had to get creative with his pitching situation.
The result was predictable. While starting pitcher Alex Webb held his own early on, a two-out rally in the second innings by the Falcons chased him early. Conor Harris and Peter Clark were both solid in relief, and the trio held Danvers to just four hits.
Their inexperience shone through in control, though, as nine walks and a hit batsman allowed Danvers to get plenty of runners on base throughout the course of the game. Couple that with a three-hit complete game by Danvers starter Raffy Tylus, and the Fishermen were never really in last night’s contest, dropping their NEC regular-season finale, 7-1.
“It was a tough one,” Orlando said. “They’re a good team, that’s why they’re 18-1. They’re not there for no reason. Fundamentally, they played well. The pitching’s no excuse, Alex had pitched before and Conor and Peter can both throw, they just got too many runs early and we didn’t hit.”
Danvers coach Roger Day’s teams have long earned their reputation as teams that you can’t make mistakes against. Last night defined that.
It started in the bottom of the second inning. After Webb fanned Danvers’ first two batters of the inning, shortstop Evan Eldridge reached on a two-out walk. Andrew Olszak took advantage in the next at-bat with an RBI triple to open the scoring, and a string of walks and base hits followed in what turned into a four-run inning by the Falcons.
Again in the bottom of the fourth, control became an issue. With one out, Harris -- then on in relief -- walked two straight batters and hit a third, forcing Clark to come on in relief with the bases loaded and one out. Clark got out of it reasonably unscathed, but a sacrifice fly by right fielder Ray Arocho gave the Falcons an insurance run.
And then in the bottom of the sixth, walks again haunted the Fishermen. Clark walked the first two batters of the inning, followed by a bunt that moved them to second and third. Arocho grounded out, plating Anthony Garron, and A.J. Couto later scored on a wild pitch. No hits, two runs, and a 7-1 lead for the Falcons.
“Maybe that’s why (Day)’s got 400 some-odd wins,” Orlando sadi. “They’re good. They’re more disciplined than most teams and they get little scrappy hits here and there and they do the little things right.”
The Fishermen got their lone run of the game in a similar manner to the way Danvers scraped out their runs all night. A flukey ground ball off the bat of Santo Parisi found a hole and got him on first to lead off the top of the third.
A Mark Horgan groundout moved Parisi to second, and he swiped third base with some aggressive base-running on a pitch in the dirt before scoring when Clark reached on an infield error with two outs. A textbook manufactured run.
That was where any offensive magic ended for the Fishermen, however. They struggled to solve Tylus, who fanned six batters through his six innings and walked just two. In fact, Mike Muniz’s sharp single up the middle in the second inning was the only truly hard-hit ball off a Fisherman bat all night.
Gloucester (11-8) is hoping to grab at least one more win to improve its tournament seeding as the season winds down. The Fishermen will take on St. John’s Prep today before rounding out their season on Friday with Hamilton-Wenham, a two-game stretch they’re hoping will not only boost their seeding but also give their vaunted offense a chance to heat back up for the second season.
“We’ve just got to play better heading into the tournament,” Orlando said. “We just need to get through this week and get everybody rested heading into the tournament. When we’re hitting, nobody can stop us. When we’re not hitting, we stop ourselves.”