BEVERLY — You know that old saying, it doesn’t matter how you get the win, just that you get it? It’s as true now as it was the first time it was uttered many moons ago.
The unbeaten Danvers High baseball team can certainly relate to that.
Squaring off against one of their biggest rivals, Beverly, yesterday on the road, the Blue-and-White could have hurt themselves on multiple occasions via walks, having opposing runners on base or committing an uncharacteristic four errors.
But like a chained-up Houdini in a submerged trunk, the Falcons managed to get themselves out trouble and emerge unscathed. Their 1-0 victory over the Panthers at Cooney Field underscored the team’s ability to pull out games even when the odds say they shouldn’t.
Senior lefty Ray Arocho had perhaps his best mound outing as a Falcon, using a big 12-to-6 curveball to constantly get himself out of trouble. He allowed but one hit and struck out five, throwing 91 pitches over five innings before the Blue-and-White turned to their ace, fellow southpaw Brandon Hyde, for the final two innings. The junior, who threw a complete game victory over Gloucester three days prior, struck out the side in the sixth, then got two ground balls and a fly out in the seventh to earn the save.
“Ray’s curveball was great. He had good rhythm and confidence,” said Danvers head coach Roger Day, whose team (10-0) became the first North Shore team to qualify for the spring playoffs. “He’s matured from the last few years and was tough today when he had to be. When we made an error behind me, he stayed mentally tough.”
Beverly (6-3) stranded nine runners on the basepaths and couldn’t get a run across despite walking five times. Only three Panthers, however, managed hits: Cam Rogers, Luke McDonald and Anthony DeOrio all singled, but never touched home plate.
“We had our chances. We had the bases loaded (in the fourth inning), guys on second and third (in the second). But you’ve got to score to win,” said Beverly head coach Dave Wilbur.
“It’s too bad we let Cam’s great effort (on the mound) go to waste; he was equally as good as (Arocho). But that was the best I’ve ever seen Arocho’s curveball.”
Danvers has played three games this week, with all three resulting in shutout victories.
Rogers spun a complete game for the hosts, allowing just four hits with three strikeouts and no walks while hitting one batter.
The game’s lone run came in the fourth inning when senior left fielder Joe Strangie singled to left, stole second, took third on an infield single by teammate Dan Connors and scored when Tyler Dustin’s infield grounder went for an error.
“I thought we’d definitely need more than one run (to win),” acknowledged Day. “When you face Rogers, you know going in that runs are going to be at a premium; he’s smart, doesn’t walk guys and throws hard. Plus, Beverly’s so fundamentally sound and well coached; they can explode offensively at any time.
“But when we needed to today, we got the big plays: big pitches, big defense, and timely hitting.”
A.J. Couto, Dan Connors and Joe Olszak all had hits for Danvers, which also stole four bases.
Beverly senior center fielder Harry Brown was busy for the Panthers, making six putouts.