BROCKTON, Mass. ---- The Massasoit baseball team received a gutsy pitching performance from freshman Luke Lewando (Brockton) but top seed Northern Essex took advantage of some Warrior mistakes as the Knights won by the score of 4-3 on Saturday morning.
Lewando held the high-powered NECC (23-11-1) offense, which entered the contest hitting .380 as a team, to just five hits over seven innings of work. The five hits marked the second lowest total by the Knights all season long, as they averaged nearly 12 per game. The lefty allowed three runs, only two earned, while walking two and striking out two in the no decision.
"Lukey gave us one of the gutsiest pitching performances we've seen all year," interim coach Ben Warnick said. "He pounded the zone, like he's done all year, and kept a great hitting team Northern Essex off balance. They really didn't square up too many balls against him. They just took advances of some late miscues by us."
Scoreless entering the top of the third, Mathew Marquez led off the frame for NECC by launching a solo blast to left-center field to take the 1-0 lead. The Knights added another run in the inning on a RBI single by Brahiam Ortega. The Warriors escaped further damage by spinning their second inning-ending double play in the first three frames.
In the fourth, Massasoit (17-13) finally touched home against NECC starter Evan Glew (7-0). Nick Andrews (Raynham) started the inning by drawing a walk. After Kyle Holmberg (Middleboro) was hit by a pitch, Jimmy Lawless (Hull) put down a sac bunt, but it was misplayed by the NECC infield allowing the Warriors to load the bases with no outs.
Next up was 9-hole hitter Jack DeCoste (East Sandwich), who promptly lined a two-strike pitch to right for an RBI single to tie up the score. Later in the inning with the bases still loaded with one down, Luis Ramirez (Dedham) roped a one-hopper up the middle, that was stopped by NECC second baseman Ortega. Unfortunately, on the play, it was ruled that Ortega caught the ball in the air and he easily stepped on second for an inning ending double play.
"That unfortunately was a game-changing play," Warnick said. "Ortega made an incredible stop, can't take that away from him, but he did not catch it in the air. Tough call that didn't go our way."
Still trailing 2-1 in the sixth, the Warriors strung together three consecutive two-out singles, capped by a RBI single by Bryan Dwyer (Abington) to knot up the contest at 2-2.
The tie score was short lived as the Knights took advantage of three mishaps in the top of the seventh. Two errors and a wild pitch allowed leadoff hitter Benjamin Irvine to race home with the go-ahead run.
But, the Warriors would not be denied, as Lawless roped a RBI single to left to plate Andrews to tie up the score yet again in the last of the seventh.
Entering the top of the ninth, with the score still tied at 3-all, Nick Panzini reached to start the inning on Massasoit's fourth error of the game. Panzini moved up on a sac bunt and would score on an Ortega single for what proved to be the game-winning run off Massasoit reliever Kasey Kirby (3-2).
Kirby pitched well in relief, but was saddled with the loss, going two innings, allowing only one unearned run.
Evan Glew earned the win for NECC, going the distance, scattering 12 hits, walking three and striking out nine to improve to 7-0 on the season.
"Glew just kept getting out of jams," Warnick said. "His curveball was working against us, but I thought we squared up his fastball pretty good. It was the third time we faced him this season, so we definitely had some much better at bats than our first two times against him. He just made pitches when he needed to and we didn't not take advantage of having runners on base."
In total, the Warriors stranded 13 base runners, two in each inning from the second through the seventh. In fact, in each of those six frames, Massasoit left a runner in scoring position.
Glew retired the final eight Massasoit batters he faced to give the Knights the one-run victory in the complete game effort.
Andrews led Massasoit going 3-for-4 with two runs scored. Lewando, Ramirez and Dwyer all roped two hits in the loss.
The Warriors face Quinsigamond in a tournament elimination game on Saturday afternoon.