For those who were around to remember the 1986 Red Sox, that recollection pretty much sums up the frustrations endured by the Winthrop High baseball team this past week after losses of 11-10 to Lynn English Monday and 14-13 to Salem last Friday.
“These were two emotionally draining games for us,” said WHS head coach Frank DeMarco. “In two straight games we battled and fought hard the whole way, but in the end we came up empty handed.”
Monday’s match under the lights at Fraser Field against English is a contest that each of the Vikings will remember for the rest of their lives. Their evening started at 4:30 with batting practice in Winthrop prior to boarding the bus to Lynn for a 7:00 game. However, little could they have imagined that they would not be back home until past midnight after playing 13 innings in a see saw affair that eventually ended in an 11-10 defeat.
“In my almost 50 years of baseball, I never have been part of a game that went on for that long,” said DeMarco, noting that his team was on the field for five hours. “It was a very long day.”
The contest had plenty of highlights from a Viking perspective. A double by Chris LeBlanc in the second inning keyed a two run rally that erased a 1-0 English edge. A double by Dylan Piwinski was the big hit in the fourth that gave Winthrop a 6-5 lead at that time and then Joe Boudrow delivered a two run single in the top of the seventh that vaulted the Vikings into a 10-7 advantage.
Winthrop swiped 10 bases on the night and in the pitching department, Nick McCarthy tossed the final four innings, yielding just an unearned run that proved the difference in the bottom of the 13th inning.
However, for all of you Red Sox fans who knew only heartache until 2004, the bottom of the seventh resurrected memories of the fabled Game 6 of the World Series with the Mets. (The present Vikings will have to Google it!) English was down to its final out with no one on base and trailing 10-7. But a walk, an uncontested stolen base, a base hit, and then a two run homer made it a 10-10 ballgame.
With McCarthy and his English mound counterpart quelling the offensive fireworks that had prevailed for the first seven frames, the teams battled to a scoreless, extra inning duel until a Winthrop error allowed the game winner to score in the bottom of the 13th with the clock approaching midnight.
Friday’s encounter with Salem did not provide the same sort of drama, but nonetheless was equally frustrating in the final analysis. Salem jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first, but Winthrop erased that margin with four of their own in the bottom of the frame. Base hits by McCarthy, LeBlanc, and Mitch Paulsen and a two bagger by Boudrow keyed the Viking rally.
After Salem added solo markers in the second and third innings, Winthrop responded with three runs in their half of the third. Boudrow banged a double and McCarthy, Paulsen, and Tyler Pettee all had hits in the uprising that gave the Vikes a 7-6 edge.
Salem tied the contest in the fourth and went ahead in the fifth with single tallies, but in the Salem sixth, in the words of DeMarco, “We self destructed,” as the Vikings committed some costly miscues in the field that led to six Salem runners crossing the plate.
“We’ve played well in the field all season, but in the past two games we’ve thrown the ball around,” noted the veteran coach.
But Winthrop refused to give up and battled back with six markers of their own in the bottom of the frame. McCarthy (who had three hits and two stolen bases on the day), Paulsen, and Pettee (who also had three hits) figured prominently in the rally, but the big blow was a pinch hit, two run double by Matt Todisco.
Still, after the smoke had cleared and the dust had settled, Salem was ahead by a run, 14-13, which is how matters remained after a scoreless seventh, the only scoreless inning of the contest.
The Vikings were set to play at Marblehead yesterday (Wednesday) and at Brighton today. They trek to Gloucester Monday and return home to host Danvers next Wednesday.