By Matt Williams
---- — LYNN — The character of the Bishop Fenwick baseball team has been tested in its first two games, and the Crusaders have responded by contesting every pitch and bouncing back from the adversity that presents itself in a typical game.
Now, the Crusaders will need their character to stay positive despite doing all those things and dropping two one-run decisions.
Fenwick left the tying run in scoring position in falling to St. Mary’s of Lynn, 7-6, in a grueling Catholic Central League opener at Fraser Field yesterday.
The Crusaders (0-2) and Spartans (1-0) both battled as if the CCL title were up for grabs despite the early date on the baseball calendar as Fenwick rallied from three down in the sixth before the hosts scored twice in that inning’s bottom half.
“I’m not worried about being 0-2 because we’ve played two pretty good teams. If we shore up some things, we’re going to be fine,” said Fenwick coach Kevin Canty, whose team also fell to Division 2 power Danvers last week.
“We played really hard. We used every single kid on our bench, and we executed a lot better than in the first game. I’m happy with the effort, if not the result.”
Trailing by two into the top of the seventh, Fenwick’s James Traversey clubbed a one-out double. Pinch-hitter Will Vigneron followed with an RBI double to cut St. Mary’s lead to 7-6. He moved up to third on Matt Renzulli’s second single of the game, but Spartan reliever Matt Costanza retired Eric Razney at the top of the order to finish the contest.
“That was Matt’s first time in a varsity game. He threw strikes and has a bit of a curveball,” said St. Mary’s coach Derek Dana. “It was a good experience for him. There were a lot of good things for us; some things to clean up, too, but the big thing is we somehow got it done.”
The Crusaders didn’t throw enough strikes to keep St. Mary’s honest at the dish, with three pitchers combining for 56 percent of their offerings for strikes. Starter Robbie Carrillo only walked two and allowed four hits in 31/3 innings, but his pitch count climbed into the 70s fairly early on. The Crusaders also committed errors that led to two Spartan runs in the third and three more in the fourth.
“We need to work on strikes. Too many pitches early in the game makes it hard later on,” said Canty. “Rob threw well. He has a good fastball, but he got behind too many guys and when they’re able to sit on that fastball, they can hit it.”
Chris Blake’s bases-loaded double in the fourth appeared to break the game open as St. Mary’s moved ahead, 5-2. Fenwick clawed back in the sixth as Traversey’s single and two Spartan errors opened the door for Matt Townsend’s fielder’s choice RBI, as well as a run driven in by Jhon Oliveria when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
Nick Bona (double, two walks, RBI) hit a sacrifice fly to tie it at 5-5 after St. Mary’s lifted starting pitcher Clay Yianacopolus (5 innings, 3 hits, 3 strikeouts). Fenwick couldn’t take the lead, however, and left a total of eight men on base (7 of those in scoring position in part thanks to 8 stolen bases).
“We’re swinging the bats a lot better,” said Canty. “We just didn’t get the job done with a couple of chances with men on base.”
After St. Mary’s led off the sixth with a single, Fenwick called on senior Tommy Parsons out of the bullpen. Two walks and a sacrifice bunt led to Antonio Felix’s infield single for the go-ahead run, and St. Mary’s tacked on another on a fielder’s choice to lead 7-5.
“One of the things we talk about is answering, especially as the home team,” said Dana. “It was good to put the pressure back on them.”
Fenwick initially led 2-0 as James Dellisola’s sacrifice fly plated Carrillo (single, stolen base). Renzulli also collected an RBI in the second, plating Townsend (walk, stolen base). Oliveira swiped two bags and Traversey also stole one.