BEVERLY— It made no difference who the visiting Salem High Witches put out on the mound in yesterday's matchup against Beverly at Cooney Field, because there was no player wearing grey and white that could quiet the Panther bats as Beverly tallied 10 runs in the bottom half of the first inning en route to a 26-6 pounding of Salem.
Salem coach Jim Tgettis believes it was a lack of control from his pitching staff that allowed Beverly to score at will early and then pack on some runs late to make sure the Witches stood no shot of making a comeback.
"Against a team that can hit the ball the way they (Beverly) do, you have to throw strikes," explained Tgettis, whose team dropped to 3-4. "(Today) we couldn't get the ball over the plate and they got on us early. We were short on pitching already, so we had to go to some younger arms."
Luis Baez got the nod for the Witches but only lasted two outs as the Panthers knocked Luis and reliever Lenny Baez (no relation) around for eight hits, three walks and 10 runs in the first inning alone thanks to a one-out, three-run opposite field bomb by senior captain Austin Butler and RBI doubles by fellow captain Ethan Trowt and seniors Felix Zamot and Steve DuBois.
"I really like the way we came out and hit the ball," said Beverly head coach Dave Wilbur, whose club boosted its record to 5-2. "We took advantage of some opportunities and got those runs early. Then they (Salem) put in some younger guys (at pitcher) and we were able to get some more runs. This (game) is not indicative of the ability of either team. Sometimes these games can get out of hand and I think that's what happened here today."
With two men on in the bottom half of the fifth inning, junior shortstop Andy Brown drove an outside pitch over the opposite field fence to give the Panthers a 25-6 lead. It was one of many opposite field hits in a game in which the Panthers displayed some very sound, technical hitting.
"We have some guys who really know how to hit," noted Wilbur, whose team finished with 18 hits, seven of which went for extra bases. "Our guys (hitters) are smart and they work really hard at driving the ball where it is pitched."
Chris Mitchell picked up the win for Beverly, going four strong innings, allowing two earned runs on seven hits while striking out seven.
"When you're up 10 runs it's usually easy (on the pitcher) but sometimes it isn't," noted Wilbur. "I thought defensively we relaxed a little bit once we were up some runs, but hey, it's hard to complain when you score 26 runs."
Leading the way offensively for Salem was junior Raphy Medrano, who finished 1 for 2 with two walks and two runs scored while brother Dario Medrano was equally impressive with a pair of hits and two RBI.
"Six runs isn't bad. Some games six runs is enough to win, but not in a game like today where we were down early," said Tgettis. "It's hard to come from behind when you can't get the ball over the plate."
With the game out of reach in the top of the seventh, Wilbur elected to bring in senior Mark Theriault, who underwent an arm operation two years ago, for the final three outs. Theriault was impressive to say the least, using a powerful fastball to strike out the side and end the game.