By Conor Walsh
---- — GLOUCESTER — With two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning Thursday, Gloucester centerfielder Lenny Taormina found himself in a big spot as he stepped to the plate.
While the Fishermen had thoroughly outplayed visiting Lynn Classical for much of the game, they held just a two-run lead, and after putting two runners in scoring position with no outs in the fifth, the Fishermen were on the verge of letting a golden opportunity to add insurance runs slip through their fingers.
But Taormina, hitting in the No. 9 spot, laced a single to score Mike Muniz and Curtis Quinn and blow the game open, and the Fishermen cruised from there.
Behind a solid start from Sean Gillon — who picked up his second win of the season — timely hitting and sound defense, the Fishermen took home a 7-4 win over the Rams.
It was Gloucester’s fifth win in its last six games after beating a talented Beverly team Wednesday night, and puts the Fishermen at 8-3 on the year. More importantly, it puts them just two wins away from a state tournament berth.
“We’re playing good teams and we’re beating good teams,” Gloucester coach Joe Orlando said. “These guys weren’t bad and that Beverly team was really good last night and we just hit the crap out of the ball last night.
“Good things are happening,” he said. “We’ve got eight wins, we need two more to make the tournament, and the goal is obviously to make the tournament and then you look for seeding.”
Thursday’s game was a workmanlike win for the Fishermen, who have been able to simply slug their way to victory in many of their wins this season.
And while there were some offensive fireworks yesterday — solo home runs by Muniz and Peter Clark, the third shot of the year for each — the Fishermen had to battle for every inch against a scrappy Rams squad.
Two fruitful innings exemplified that. In the bottom of the third with the Fishermen leading 2-1, Clark led off with a sharp single to left field. Alex Webb, the team’s No. 3 hitter, surprised many and bunted Clark to second, and catcher Jordan Pallazola followed with an RBI single to extend the lead.
Later in the game, after Taormina’s clutch two-run single, Jason Vizena followed with a single of his own to put runners on first and third.
With two outs, Orlando rolled the dice and put on a double-steal — and was rewarded. Vizena executed the play to perfection, catching himself in a run-down and extending it long enough for Taormina to score from third for Gloucester’s final run.
“It seems like different people are stepping up at different times, which is a good thing,” Orlando said. “Big performance from Lenny today in center field. (Starting center fielder) Mark (Horgan) was on a college visit and Lenny had a great game out there.”
Meanwhile, Gillon was cruising on the hill. He went six strong innings, scattering six hits — a handful of which were bloopers — and surrendering just two runs.
The Rams cut the lead to 4-2 in the top of the fifth inning on an RBI double by touted catcher Kyle Devin (1-for-2, 2RBI), one of Lynn Classical’s few hard-hit balls. After the Fishermen’s three-run fifth extended the lead, though, Gillon slammed the door in the sixth to finish his day.
“Sean looked really good out there today,” Orlando said.
Orlando plugged Muniz in to close out the game in his first appearance of the season, and while he was scratched up for two runs, he notched two strikeouts in his one inning of work.
Clark (2-for-4, HR, RBI, 2R), Muniz (2-for-3, HR, RBI, 2R) and Taormina (2-for-3, 2RBI, 2R) led the way for the Fishermen offensively, while Vizena chipped in with a hit and an RBI.
The Fishermen will look to extend their hot streak Monday when they travel to Lynn’s Fraser Field to take on Lynn English. Orlando’s expecting the Fishermen to see fireballer Ben Bowden, among the conference’s best pitchers, on the mound for the Bulldogs.
“We’ve got a tough road still,” Orlando said. “English is going to be tough Monday. I’m sure they’re going to throw Bowden, that’s fine. If we face him it’s a good thing because we’ll see what we’re made of.”
Gloucester 7, Lynn Classical 4
at Nate Ross Field, Gloucester>Lynn Classical (4): Rose lf 4-1-1, Scuzzarella cf 4-1-1, Devin c 2-0-1, Avery p 4-0-0, Evelli 3b 3-0-1, Devin 1b 2-1-0, Torres rf 3-0-1, Earp 2b 3-0-0, Perez ss 3-1-1. Totals 28-4-6Gloucester (7): Vizena lf/1b 3-0-1, Clark 3b 4-2-2, Webb ss 3-0-1, Pallazola c 4-0-1, Muniz 1b/p 3-2-2, Favaloro ph 1-0-0, Quinn rf 2-1-2, Murray 2b 2-0-1, Parisi dh 3-0-0, Taormina cf 3-2-2. Totals 28-7-12 Lynn Classical (4-7): 010 010 2 | 4 Gloucester (8-3): 111 130 x | 7 RBI: L, Devin 2, Scuzzarella, Perez; G, Taormina 2, Vizena, Clark, Pallazola, Muniz.WP: Gillon; LP: Avery