By Nick Curcuru
---- — GLOUCESTER— What do you get when two good high school baseball teams hungry for a win meet on the diamond? You get Friday’s non-league tilt between Gloucester and Bishop Fenwick.
The Fishermen and Crusaders traded shot for shot in a see saw battle that saw four lead changes, and after a wild final two innings where the teams combined for 10 runs, it was the visiting Crusaders that were able to survive with an 11-9 win.
“It was a good game, and Bishop Fenwick is a good program,” said Gloucester head coach Joe Orlando. “It’s definitely disappointing to lose a close game but I’m happy with the way we played. It was a battle between two good teams. We’re 3-1 and I told the team if we go 3-1 every four games we are in great shape.”
Fenwick (4-1) head coach Kevin Canty was quick to praise his team’s offense for keeping up with a high powered Fishermen lineup.
“It was a good win for us against a quality team,” Canty said. “We knew coming in they could hit and we had to match it. I thought we put some good swings on the ball today.”
The Crusaders looked to be in control late holding onto a 6-4 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth inning when the game took a wild turn.
Gloucester’s first two batters, Lenny Taormina and Devon Murray, each reached base by way of a single and a fielding error respectively. After a Mark Horgan single loaded the bases with a single the Fishermen pulled to within one at 6-5 when Jason Vizena was hit by a pitch with a bases loaded. The next batter, Peter Clark, walked with the bags still full to tie the score at 6-6.
Senior Alex Webb delivered the big blow of the inning ripping a single to right that cleared the bases after the ball got past the right fielder to make it 9-6 Gloucester.
The Fishermen were three outs away from a win, but the Crusaders came through in the clutch. Mike MacKenzie and Nick Bona started off the top of the seventh with a walk and a double respectively. Gianni Esposito made it 9-7 plating MacKenzie with a double setting the stage for Brian Burke’s heroics.
Burke, who surrendered all five of Gloucester’s runs in the bottom of the sixth, more than made up for it with his bat stroking a three-run shot to right field to put the Crusaders up for good 10-9.
“Brian didn’t have his A stuff on the mound tonight but that’s alright, he’s done it for us multiple times this year,” Canty said. “And he did it for us with his bat today. That was a nice, clutch hit.”
Fenwick would tack on another run to take an 11-9 lead into the bottom half of the inning where Gloucester would predictably make things interesting. Pitcher James Dellisola retired the first two hitters of the inning but after a hit and a pair of walks the Fishermen had the bases loaded and the winning run on base.
Dellisola, however, would get the big out when he needed to inducing a fly-out to end the game.
“They just had a few more timely hits than we did,” Orlando said. “Again, I liked the way we played but give (Fenwick) credit, they are a good team and made some good plays in the end.”
The Crusaders jumped out to an early 2-0 lead just two batters in on a two-run homer by Mike MacKenzie. A Jordan Pallazola home run made it 2-1 in the second and after Fenwick made it 3-1, Mike Muniz responded with a two-run shot of his own to give Gloucester a 6-4 lead.
Bishop Fenwick was powered by the top of its order as Jhon Oliviera, MacKenzie, Bona, Esposito and Burke combined for eight hits, nine runs and eight RBI. Bona led the way with three hits and two runs, Burke and Esposito drove in three runs each while MacKenzie and Oliviera each scored three times.
Muniz and Pallazola each had a pair of hits and RBI for Gloucester while Webb chipped in a pair of hits.