By Matt Williams
---- — DANVERS — It was a night for rare occurrences at Twi-Field, with Danvers wearing royal blue jerseys in their home ballpark and using a variety of unique plays to finish off a 10-0 win over Salem.
The Falcons were technically the road team, with the game moved from Salem State when the start time was made later because of Advanced Placement testing.
Danvers, now 11-4 with wins in six of their last seven games, played like they were enjoying the comforts of home as sophomore Andrew Olszak threw a gem in his varsity start, facing 15 batters and retiring them all in five perfect innings.
“Andrew was outstanding,” said Danvers coach Roger Day. “All he does is throw strikes. He’d thrown in relief a couple of times and I think he had 24 of his 28 pitches for strikes, so we thought he’d earned the chance to start. He was perfect.”
Salem (2-11) was aggressive at the dish and Olszak was happy to oblige. Danvers’ right-hander threw only 43 pitches in his five spotless frames, with 10 being the most he threw in any one inning. He only threw more than five pitches to one batter once, with three strikeouts, six ground outs and six fly outs among his 15-up, 15-down outing.
“He was on,” Salem coach Paul Caron said of Olszak. “He got ahead of just about every batter, threw a ton of strikes and worked fast. He made it tough on us.”
Day turned to Andrew Dunn to pitch the sixth, with a walk and an infield single by Salem’s Tim Ryan breaking up the bids for a combined perfect game or no-hitter. Jason McCannon struck out two while walking one in the seventh for the Falcons.
“We just wanted to get the other guys some work,” said Day, who used his entire bench throughout the game. “The biggest thing was just getting the win.”
Danvers pulled ahead early, taking a 5-0 lead before recording their first hit. Richie Martino reached on an error, as did Ryan Kelleher, who scored on an RBI by Jordan DiDonato in the first. Cris Valles (hit by pitch), Matt Andreas and Devonn Allen (walks) reached to begin the second, and all scored on a variety of passed balls and wild pitches before Dan Lynch came up with the first hit for Danvers.
Kelleher then followed with a 2-run double to as Danvers led 7-0 after two. Salem started Sammy Ramirez hit two batters to begin the third and was relieved by Christian Montanez. Martino’s bases-loaded single scored a pair and gave Falcons complete control, 9-0.
The Witches committed four errors, with three of those contributing to the early barrage of runs. Montanez was making his third mound appearance of the week and pitched well in the middle innings; the only run he was charged with was unearned in the seventh.
“It’s about consistency,” said Caron. “Until we’re consistently making plays for all seven innings, we’re going to struggle.”
Falcon pitcher Brandon Hyde, a senior who is the program’s all-time wins leader and typically doesn’t hit, got an at-bat in the seventh inning. He roped it under Zack Ryan’s glove at shortstop to record his first career RBI and put the figurative cherry on top of Danvers’ victory.
Danvers was pleased with the play of backup catcher Tom Cadmus, who clubbed a double in the seventh. Kelleher also made a running catch in the second that saved Olszak’s bid at perfection.