Over the course of the regular season, the Gloucester baseball team made a name for itself by winning close ball games. Gloucester picked up 10 wins by three runs or less in the regular season compared to just one loss.
On Monday against No. 7 Pentucket in the Division 3 North Quarterfinals, however, the second seeded Fishermen left no doubts as they led wire-to-wire in an eventual 8-1 win at Nate Ross Field.
With the win, Gloucester improves to 18-4 and will take on No. 3 Lynnfield (17-5) in the Division 3 North Semifinals later this week, date, time and location TBA.
“We played in so many close games this season and played well, I guess those games prepared us for this,” Gloucester head coach Rory Gentile said. “I don’t care how we win, we just want to do it playing the game the right way and we did tonight.”
After senior righty Ben Oliver pitched out of a first inning jam, working around two hits and two walks with an assist from catcher E.J. Field throwing out a runner trying to steal second, the Fishermen got right on the board in the bottom of the frame.
With two down and two on, Zach Abbott singled up the middle scoring Matt Montagnino (single) and Marcus Montagnino (walk) to put Gloucester ahead 2-0 through one inning of play.
“That first inning was a big tone setter,” Pentucket head coach Mike Wendt said. “If we get a couple there it really puts the pressure on them. But instead they got a couple and we were playing catch up.”
Oliver cruised after the first inning troubles, retiring nine out of the next 10 batters and allowing just two more hits in the next four innings, all scoreless. The senior picked up the win in five innings of work, striking out three. The key for Oliver was a heavy dose of strikes with all of his pitches, and he did not let a few well hit balls in the first inning affect his rhythm. “We wanted Ben to pound the strike zone,” Gentile said. “They made some solid contact early but in a high school baseball game, if you keep hitting spots the way Ben did, most of that contact is going to be weak contact. That’s what he got for the rest of the night.”
Gloucester extended the lead to 3-0 in the third when Jack Costanzo singled up the middle and the ball got by the center fielder allowing Lucas Melanson, who was the lone Fishermen with two hits on the day, to come around all the way from first to make it 3-0.
The Fishermen put the game away with five unearned runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. They almost left the bases loaded in the frame but an error on a grounder on the infield scored pinch runner Max Boucher and Lucido with two down in the inning. Marcus Montagnino came up next with two on and two out, and he launched a three-run homer to center, the deepest part of the ballpark, to give the Fishermen a commanding 8-0 lead.
“Marcus has such a great mental approach,” Gentile said. “He got walked in the first and then had an at bat where he didn’t get the runner over. Instead of getting rattled, he went up with the same approach and crushed a 2-0 fastball.”
For Pentucket, a team that relied on great defense all season was undone by sloppy play in the field as Gloucester scored three runs thanks to errors.
“Defense was a strength for us all season,” Wendt said. “We knew we didn’t have much margin for error against a team that can hit like Gloucester and it’s tough to beat a team like that when you give up more than you’re supposed to.”
The Sachems got on the board in the sixth inning when Ethan Hunts’ grounder plated Trevor Blanchard, but Jake MacKillop finished the game by pitching the final two innings.
Division 3 North Quarterfinals
No. 2 Gloucester 8, No. 7 Pentucket 1
at Nate Ross Field, Gloucester
Pentucket 000 001 0| 1
Gloucester 210 500 x| 8
P: Melone, P/CF, 4-0-1; Flaherty, SS, 4-0-1; Etter, CF/P, 4-0-1; Cane, C/1B, 2-0-1; Blanchard, 2B, 2-1-0; Lynch, RF, 3-0-1; Stock, 1B/C, 2-0-0; Hunt, P, 1-0-0; Husak, 2B, 3-0-2; Kamuda, LF, 2-0-0. Totals, 27-1-7,
G: Mat. Montagnino, 2B, 3-2-1; Oliver, P/1B, 4-1-1; Mar. Montagnino, CF, 2-2-1; Field, C, 3-0-0; Abbott, 3B, 3-0-1; MacKillop, 1B/P, 2-0-0; Taormina, PH, 1-0-1; Melanson, RF, 3-1-2; Boucher, PR, 0-1-0; Lucido, DH, 2-1-0; Costanzo, SS, 3-0-1. Totals, 26-8-8.
RBI: P, Hunt; G, Mar. Montagnino 3, Abbott 2.
WP, Oliver; LP, Melone.
Records: P, 14-8; G, 18-4.