By Gianna Addario
---- — DANVERS — Not giving up has been the name of the game for the Topsfield Williamsport all-star team.
After suffering two tough losses over the weekend, Topsfield found itself behind once again in the opening innings of last night’s meeting with Ipswich. Timely hitting and solid pitching proved to be beneficial to the designated home team as Topsfield captured its first win of the tournament by a score of 3-2.
“We had a pretty hard loss to Amesbury on Sunday night and the boys were able to battle back for this one,” said Topsfield manager Bruce Spaulding. “They played a solid game for this win. It’s nice to play a close game like this, just wish the bats were a little livelier — but we’ll take the win.”
Ipswich (0-3) started things off in the first inning by loading the bases and Topsfield pitcher Jake Spaulding walked in a run. Spaulding, who allowed two hits and two walks in the opening stanza, struck the next two batters out to get out of the jam, throwing 35 pitches.
Ben Yanakakis got his third start on the mound for Ipswich and looked solid through four innings of work. The 12-year-old lefty struck out seven batters in his performance. He gave up just one hit through the first two innings, but Topsfield took control in the third.
With the bases loaded, first baseman Theo Hunt hit a monster double, which drove in Jack Seymour and Spaulding to give Topsfield its first lead of the night.
“Theo was able to drive in those runs for us with his big hit,” added the elder Spaulding. “Mathematically, we’re not eliminated just yet.”
Topsfield added an insurance run in the fourth inning as Andrew Gotts was able to cross home plate on an error to go up 3-1.
Yanakakis went out to warm up in the fifth inning, but his father, Ipswich manager Bill Yanakakis knew something was off in his pitches and put in Declan O’Flynn in relief.
“He tweaked something in his shoulder the inning before so he was on short leash,” Yanakakis said of his son. “I thought he pitched well, but I don’t think he had his total velocity there. He really ate up a lot of the innings in the regular season, he had 126 strikeouts in 10 starts and was really on fire. We may have over pitched him a little bit here in the tournament, but he’s our No. 1 guy.”
Ipswich, however, left eight runners on base over the six innings, which proved to be costly in the end. Yanakakis scored on a overthrown ball at third, but that would be as close as Ipswich would come to regaining the lead.
“We beat ourselves,” added Yanakakis. “Spaulding pitched a great game for them. He has a nice little curve ball and throws the off speed pitches. These young kids aren’t used to seeing stuff like that and it fools them.”
After giving up the one run in the first inning, Spaulding didn’t allow another run during his 42/3 innings. Spaulding threw 89 pitches, struck out nine, and only allowed two hits.