By Jean DePlacido
---- — DANVERS — Resiliency is part of the Danvers High baseball team’s DNA.
Having already lost a pair of one-run games to their rivals (and potential Super 8 participant) Gloucester this spring, the Falcons were not going to let themselves be beaten a third time. So they used a clutch pitching performance from Andrew Olszak and got three RBI from fellow sophomore Danny Lynch to knock off the Fishermen, 3-2, yesterday at the Twi-Field.
In winning the back end of a home-and-home series with Gloucester, the Falcons (15-5) saw Olszak go all seven innings while allowing just four hits and one walk. He also struck out seven, including the last two hitters he faced.
Olszak grew stronger as the game went on, retiring 15 of the last 17 Fishermen, including the final 12 batters he faced. He relied on a nasty breaking ball and had complete control of his fastball.
“He pitched an unbelievable game,” said Falcons coach Roger Day. “He set up batters with his breaking ball and then froze them with the fastball.
“Andrew hadn’t pitched in a couple of years until about a week ago, and we were reluctant to use him because it weakens us defensively (Olszak is the starting shortstop). This is only his second varsity start.”
Gloucester ace Peter Clark, recently named the Northeastern Conference’s MVP, also pitched well but his defense let him down.
The Fishermen scored two unearned runs in the second inning when Lukas McRobb singled, and Conor Harris reached on a throwing error with two down. Curtis Quinn doubled to the gap in right-center, scoring both base runners. Gloucester would only have two baserunners the rest of the game, though.
The Falcons took advantage of two defensive errors by the visitors in the third inning to tie it up as the wet conditions made the ball hard to handle. Devonn Allen hit a two-out single to right and Olszak beat out an infield hit to set the stage for Lynch, who delivered a two-run single to tie the game.
“Clark pitched pretty well; he didn’t have his best stuff, but hit his spots. He made them hit a lot of ground balls (14), but we didn’t make the plays. Our defense not being up to par hurt us,” said Gloucester (17-3) coach Bryan Lafata.
“Olszak made first pitch strikes and he was very effective keeping our guys off balance. We were very unproductive at the plate and only had a few hard hit balls, with lots of strikeouts from guys that normally don’t strike out.”
Gloucester’s Bart Margiotta singled up the middle to start the fourth, but was erased on a fielder’s choice by Lukas McRobb. Olszak got Eric Chalmers to fly out when left fielder Jordan DeDonato made a diving catch in foul territory. Olszak then struck out the next batter to end the threat and cruised through the final three innings.
“All of his pitches were working for him; he was hitting all his spots,” Danvers freshman catcher Matt Andreas said of Olszak. “I don’t think he threw the curve more than three times, but that breaking ball was great. This was a big team win for us.”
Andreas scored what proved to be the winning run in the fifth when he led off with a single and went all the way to third on a hit by Olszak as the Falcons used the hit-and-run perfectly. He scored when a ground ball by Lynch was bobbled.
“Lynch has come so far in one year,” said Day. “He’s probably third on our team in hits.
“We use the hit-and-run because we have to be aggressive, and because we were running it put pressure on their infielder. We have speed; so there’s no question we can run.”
Lafata wasn’t sure how this loss will affect his team’s chance to make the Super 8.
“If we won this game it would have made a statement, but the way we played isn’t Super 8 caliber,” he said. “We’ll be honored to compete if we do get voted in, but we’ll have to wait and see how that plays out. We know we’ve got things to work on because you can’t rely on the long ball in the tournament. Pitching and defense win games.”