SWAMPSCOTT — It wasn't pretty and it wasn't easy, but two clutch plays by Danvers High catcher Joe Strangie helped save the day for the Falcons.
Minutes after singling home the go-ahead run, the junior backstop threw out a pinch-runner to kill a Swampscott rally as Danvers scratched its way to a 6-5 come-from-behind win on the road yesterday.
The Falcons (1-1) earned the victory by plating four runs in the top of the sixth to erase what had been a 5-2 Swampscott lead. Junior righty Scott Hovey then fanned three over the final two innings to slam the door on the Big Blue (1-1).
"Joe's a kid that's confident, has experience and toughness, and knows how to win," said Danvers head coach Roger Day.
The Big Blue seemed to be in complete control ahead by three runs, but senior hurler Nick Meninno walked back-to-back Danvers hitters to begin the sixth. The visitors took advantage with Hovey's RBI double, the Falcons' first extra-base hit of the day.
Nick Valles (2 hits, 2 RBI) drove in a run with a single, and Hovey came in from third with the tying run on an errant attempt to cut down a runner stealing second. Strangie then doubled home the go-ahead run.
"Those were two very good at-bats (by Valles and Strangie)," Day said. "Those guys stayed with it."
Sean O'Brien singled to lead off the home half of the sixth, but his pinch-runner was thrown out. Justin Perry also singled, but Hovey earned two strikeouts to end the sixth and retired the side in order in the seventh.
"Anytime you lose, it's frustrating," said Swampscott coach T.J. Baril. "That was a good baseball game. A lot of different things happened out there — a lot of good things and some bad things."
Ray Arocho got the start for Danvers and threw 100 pitches over five innings. He limited the Big Blue to four hits but issued three walks and was victimized by two errors in the fifth. Arocho, who also doubled, fanned five.
Justin Massey plated two runs for Swampscott when he reached on an error in the fifth to stretch the lead to 5-2. A.J. Baker drove in a run for the Big Blue in the third, and Meninno and Gino Cresta knocked in runs in the fourth. In all, Swampscott had six hits, including Frank Legere's double and a single by Matt Videtta.
"We had some timely hits, but didn't string them together. Our strength is running the bases, and we weren't very strong there today," said Baril, whose Big Blue had two runners cut down by Strangie and another picked off by Arocho.
The Falcons also had six hits but took advantage of seven walks issued by Swampscott pitching. Meninno was dealing early before Valles singled home Dan Connors (2 runs scored) and then scored when John Eldredge got himself in a rundown and stayed alive long enough to let Valles cross the plate.
"We started to relax," Day said. "We were staying back and letting the ball get deeper to us. We got better swings."
Swampscott escaped trouble with Arocho on third in the final frame. Baril called for an intentional walk, and the first ball ticked off the catcher's glove to the backstop. Luckily, he tracked it down and flipped to O'Brien, who tagged Arocho for the out and wound up with a scoreless inning.