Big Inning Burns Concord American Legion Team
Post 158 falls to Lowell to cap stretch of four games in four days
The Concord Post 158 American Legion baseball team managed to avoid the flames for half of Wednesday's District 5 contest at Alumni Field. Lowell Post 87 put the heat on for much of the first few innings, but not until the fifth did Concord get burned.
Lowell exploded for six runs in the fifth en route to a 9-2 blowout win over the visiting and shorthanded Post 158 squad before about 50 fans, many of which cheered on Concord (5-8).
"They were a tough team," Concord coach John Morrissey said, "but other than the one inning, I thought we battled them pretty well. That bottom of the fifth got away from us for a little bit."
Post 158 starter Carlo Del Donno played with fire for much of the first three innings. Lowell (9-2) touched the right-hander for five hits and a run, an RBI double by Chad Genes in the first, to that point. A pair of double plays to close out the second and third innings aided Del Donno's cause.
Not until the fourth inning did Post 87 show its first sparks. Genes led off with a bloop single to center field and moved to third on Matt Tulley's base hit and a passed ball. Andrew Marasa's sacrifice fly plated Genes to tie the score at 2-apiece.
Del Donno (five innings, nine runs, eight earned, 12 hits and two walks) appeared to stifle the rally when Andrew Donahue hit a groundball to shortstop Dylan Katz-Wicks. But Katz-Wicks' throw pulled Ryan Kelt off the first-base bag and the miscue proved costly as Tulley came around to score on the play.
Concord could withstand the heat no longer in the fifth.
Lowell's Derek Reed and Kyle Gath started the inning with a walk and single, respectively. Both came around on James Ricoy's triple that bounced against the wall in right-center field.
A decision to intentionally walk the next batter, Genes (two hits to that point), backfired when he eventually scored on a Rob Wallace groundout. Lowell then turned up the heat on back-to-back RBI singles by Donahue and Andrew Lee.
"I think it was a little fatigue and a little of their bats catching up to (Del Donno)," Morrissey said. "He relies on mixing speeds and when you get to the third time around the order against a real good team and fatigue sets in, all those things are working against him.
"But he battled and knew we didn't have much of a bullpen, so he had to go out there and sort of take one for the team a little bit. And he did that, so we're proud of him."
Del Donno got out of the fifth with a strikeout of pinch hitter Kyle Adie, the 10th man to bat in the inning. It was his only punchout.
Playing with a short bench (injuries and summer vacations) forced Morrissey to use Andreas Valoui-Farb for the final inning. The lefty didn't allow a hit, walked one and hit a batter in his first work on the mound this season.
"We felt like we had to ride our starter more than we normally would have in other circumstances," said Morrissey, admitting he left Del Donno in too long, but didn't have much choice with the team shorthanded.
Concord scored both its runs in the third inning. Michael Woo led off with a walk, moved to second on Alex Nardone's sac bunt and scored on Katz-Wicks' deep double to right-center. Katz-Wicks later stole home on a double steal, with Brendan Canavan taking second base, for the second run.
Just four Concord batters reached base over the final four innings – all were stranded. Morrissey said Post 158's inability to get a hit with two outs doomed its offense, which stranded five runners.
"We didn't get it tonight or (Wednesday) night's loss to Reading," the coach said of a key two-out hit. "It's a big thing to deliver that guy in scoring position with two outs. There were a lot of chances where a hit would've given us a run."
Brian Dizio was the only Concord batter with multiple hits. He had a pair of singles to go with two steals.
After playing four games in as many days, Post 158 gets a much-deserved rest. It doesn't play again until Tuesday when Lexington Post 38 visits Emerson Field.