They say you never forget your first varsity base hit. No doubt Winthrop High freshman James Baxter will come to know the truth of that axiom for the rest of his life.
Baxter, who came in as a pinch hitter, delivered a linedrive base hit to bring home Matt Todisco with the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Winthrop High baseball team a dramatic 7-6 win over Swampscott Monday afternoon.
Todisco had walked and stolen second to move into scoring position prior to Baxter’s clutch swing of the bat, which marked the freshman’s first varsity base hit.
“This was our biggest game of the season and was a must win for us,” said WHS head coach Frank DeMarco. The triumph kept alive the Vikings’ chances for reaching the post season state tournament under the so called Sullivan Rule in which a team can qualify for the tourney by winning 50 percent of its games against opponents in its own division.
However, Winthrop still needs another victory in one of its two remaining games, against either Saugus (which was scheduled for yesterday) or Watertown today (Thursday) at Bentley College to punch its ticket for a Journey to the Tourney.
The contest with a Swampscott was the fourth in a stretch of four games in four days for DeMarco’s weary charges. Joe Boudrow went all eight innings on the mound, allowing just six hits. Boudrow appeared to have
the game in hand in the seventh, but a bloop single over third base off the fists of a Swampscott batter allowed two runs to score with two outs to tie matters at 6- 6 and force the game into extra innings.
“Joe pitched a great game for us,” said DeMarco, who noted that it was the second time this season that his senior captain had gone an eight inning distance.
The Vikings moved out to a 4-0 lead in the opening inning thanks to a pair of two-RBI base hits by Chris LeBlanc and Tyler Pettee. Winthrop tacked on another marker two innings later when senior captain Nick McCarthy singled, stole second and third, and then scooted home on a double steal with teammate Mitch Paulsen.
Winthrop’s sixth tally likewise was manufactured in part thanks to nifty base running. Dan Eruzione reached on an infield hit, stole second, and scored on a base hit by senior captain Nick McCarthy.
McCarthy has been tearing it up at the plate, swinging the bat for an .800 average in the past three games and raising his season’s average to .500. Nick’s offensive production this season includes 20 RBI, 25 runs scored, 15 stolen bases, and three homers.
“Nick is perhaps the best athlete in the Northeastern Conference,” said DeMarco, who also was effusive in his praise of McCarthy’s fellow captain, Boudrow. “When Joe and Nick are at short and second, we have the best middle infield in the league, if not the state,” lauded the coach, who pointed out that they have committed only one error apiece this year.
The three previous games saw the Vikings drop contests to Lynn Classical, Gloucester, and Danvers. In the 5-4 loss to Gloucester on Saturday, Alex Liberti went five strong innings, allowing four runs and six hits.
Mitch Paulsen socked a two run tater, Mike Paulsen had an RB double, and McCarthy added an RBI single.
The Danvers contest was a high scoring, 12-7 affair. McCarthy produced three hits, including a triple, a walk, two runs, and two RBI; Mike Paulsen had three hits and two runs; Mitch P. had two hits and two runs; and LeBlanc drove in three runs with two hits. Freshman Steve Goddard stymied the Danvers bats with two shutout innings in the final two frames.
If the Vikings are successful and win one of their two remaining contests this week to punch their ticket for a Journey to the Tourney, it is expected that the seedings and first round pairings will be announced next Tuesday.