TOPSFIELD — Joe Klingensmith may have moved into the starting rotation when Masconomet’s No. 2 pitcher went down with an injury in the middle of the baseball season, but the big junior right-hander still has a closer’s mentality.
When Winchester loaded the bases with no outs while down three runs in the top of the fourth inning yesterday, fans moved to the edge of their seats. Klingensmith, meanwhile, fell back into his comfort zone, fanning the next three hitters en route to a complete game shutout as Masconomet advanced to the Division 2 North semifinals with a 4-0 win.
The fifth-seeded Chieftains (17-5) have now won 11 straight contests and will face 17th seeded Dracut (9-14) at Alumni Field in Lowell tomorrow (4 p.m.).
“Personally, I’m just trying to strike them out (once the bases are loaded) because if they make contact, they’re probably scoring,” said Klingensmith. “My mindset was just shooting strikes and missing bats. I’ve always thought of myself as having that closer’s mentality. I throw a lot of fastballs and like going right at people.”
It was heavy doses of a heavy fastball for Klingensmith once the bases were juiced in the top of the fourth. He got all three Winchester batters swinging at high heat, with catcher Michael Manni squeezing a foul tip for the final strike of the inning. What was most impressive was Klingensmith needed only 10 pitches to get out of the jam.
“Anytime you get the bases loaded with nobody out, you hope to get something out of it,” said Sachems (11-11) head coach David Blanchard. “That was incredible execution on (Klingensmith’s) part. He was lights out all day.”
Klingensmith finished with 11 strikeouts, gave up just three hits and made two putouts — including one spectacular play in which he barehanded a grounder up the middle when he was off-balance.