(Lynn MA) Gloucester took a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh, and survived a bases-loaded situation, to win a Division 2 North semifinals battle with North Andover on Friday afternoon.
The triumph by the Fishermen (20-2) sends them to the D2 North finals against Masconomet tomorrow (4PM) at Lelacheur Field in Lowell.
Senior Conor Harris picked up the win with one-batter relief help from Pete Clark.
The #1 seed Fishermen seemed to be in pretty good shape heading into the final inning the way starter Conor Harris was going. Gloucester had two runs and the GHS senior had given up only one hit through six innings.
But after one out in the seventh the Knights made things very interesting. Matt Iannone and Stephen Borzi singled before Conor Harris struck out pinch hitter Marc Patnaude to get the second out. Pinch hitter Christoffer Keane then walked to load the bases. At this point, Gloucester coach Bryan Lafata brought in Pete Clark (MVP Northeastern Conference) to face Brendan Parisotto. Pete got the strikeout to seal the deal for Gloucester.
The Fishermen’s first run came in the second inning and was unearned. After Drew Shairs singled, a routine grounder to second baseman Stephen Borzi did not result in an out. Stephen tried to tag the baserunner (Drew Shairs) and missed and then threw late to first. Another grounder was hit Stephen Borzi’s way and this time he clicked with shortstop Matt Varoutsos on a force-out at second. The error part was Matt’s low throw to first baseman Collin Couillard that allowed Drew Shairs to cross with the first Gloucester run.
The NEC champs added insurance in the sixth inning. Jordan Pallazola beat out a slow roller to third and reached second on a fielder’s choice with two outs. Junior Bart Margiotta singled Jordan home.
Junior Evan Glew took the loss for North Andover (Merrimack Valley Conference) but gave up only one earned run and struck out five.
The Knights (12-11) were limited to three hits by Gloucester pitching. NA did have a runner in scoring position (Brendan Parisotto) in the third with two outs but Matt Varoutsos popped out to first to end the inning. In the fifth, the #12 seed had two on with one out but GHS starter Conor Harris struck out Austin Flinn and got a fly out from Brendan Parisotto to maintain the shutout.
Plenty of credit goes to the North Andover team for the recovery they made after being 5-9 at one point in the 2014 season. The Knights won seven of their last eight to reach the tournament and then upset two higher seeds (Winchester and Reading) to reach the D2 North semifinals.
Gloucester dominated the NEC (13-1) this season. They are in the MIAA tourney for the 11th straight season. The Fishermen defeated Belmont, 3-2, to reach the semifinals.
Jordan Pallazola was caught stealing on a fine throw to second by NA catcher Chris Bosco to shortstop Matt Varoutsos in the fourth inning
Gloucester got a fortunate bounce in the fifth inning. With two NA runners on, catcher Jordan Pallazola tried to pick Brian Varoutsos off first. Jordan’s throw hit the baserunner diving back in and bounced directly into first baseman Drew Shairs hands. If that ball gets by, the NA runner on second might have scored.
Matt Iannone was hit twice by Gloucester pitcher Conor Harris.
Knights’ leftfielder Austin Flinn dove for freshman Eric Chalmers short fly and ended up needing medical attention.
A 2PM start on a school-day Friday drew a close-friends-and-family sized crowd. I suspect that both Masco and Gloucester will have many on hand for tomorrow’s Saturday afternoon matchup at Lalacheur Field.
Weather? Couldn’t have been better.
Fraser Field now has turf in the infield and from dugout to dugout in front the backstop. I like it.
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)