Donato walks it off for Walpole Legion

Aidan Murray (10) dives back into first on a pick-off attempt in the bottom of the second inning before coming around to score Walpole’s first run of the contest.

By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor

After a 10-1 defeat at home to Walpole two weeks prior, revenge was certainly on the minds of James Voss and Medfield Legion Post 110 6 on Thursday evening when they traveled to Bird Middle School for a rematch with Cam Martin and company. Despite a hot start at the plate by the Medfield bats, Walpole was able to come from 3-1 down late to defeat Medfield 4-3 in eight innings, thanks to a walk-off single by Matt Donato.

Ryan Murphy (16) fires in a strike in the top of the first inning of Thursday night’s 4-3 win over Medfield.

Ryan Murphy (16) fires in a strike in the top of the first inning of Thursday night’s 4-3 win over Medfield.

With one out in the top of the first inning, James Voss drew first blood for Medfield by cranking a ball into the right-center field gap and came all the way around to score for an inside-the-park home run (the ball likely would have been out of Curt Schilling Field by a solid 15 feet). Walpole starting pitcher Ryan Murphy responded by getting a fly out to center to record the second out of the inning before catcher Tyler Page gunned down a runner trying to steal second to end the inning.

DS’ Ryan Sliwinski got the start on the mound for Post 110 6 and retired Walpole in order in the bottom of the first. Chris Schworer led off the top of the second for Medfield with a triple into the right-center field gap. John Manning (Millis) then drove in Schworer with a single to center, extending the Medfield lead to 2-0 after an inning and a half.

Matt Donato cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the second inning with an RBI single down the third-base line, making it a 2-1 game.

A scoreless third inning had Medfield still in front 2-1 entering the fourth. Jake McKee (Millis) led off the top of the fourth inning for Medfield with a single to center. After stealing second and advancing to third on a passed ball, McKee was driven home on Manning’s second RBI single of the game, extending the Medfield lead back to two runs at 3-1.

Sliwinski retired Walpole in order in the bottom of the fourth, but Murphy responded by sending Medfield down in order as well in the top of the fifth. In the bottom half, Walpole strung together a one-out rally when Tyler Page cracked a double into the right-centerfield gap with runners on second and third, plating Cam Martin and Aidan Murray to tie the game. John Manning then made a run-saving diving catch out in right field to limit the damage to just two runs and end the inning with the game still knotted at three.

Walk-off hero Matt Donato (6) takes a pitch low and away for a ball during the bottom of the fifth.

Walk-off hero Matt Donato (6) takes a pitch low and away for a ball during the bottom of the fifth.

Both teams went down 1-2-3 in their halves of the sixth. Murphy was able to get Medfield to ground into an inning-ending double play in the top of the seventh, giving Walpole the chance to win it in the bottom half. Walpole managed to put the winning run in scoring position with no outs in the bottom of the seventh following a leadoff double by Aidan Murray. However, a bunt popped up to the catcher, a fly to right, and a ground ball snagged on the mound by Sliwinski after leaving his feet and corralling it in mid-air before firing to first left Murray stranded and sent the game to extras.

Murphy retired Medfield 1-2-3 in the top of the eighth, giving Walpole yet another chance to win it in the bottom half. Following back-to-back singles by Cam Martin and Charlie Auditore to lead off the inning, Matt Donato lined a ball into the gap out in right-center to plate Auditore and give Walpole the 4-3 walk-off victory.

For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter at @fLAno0, or read his blog at www.flannylive.wordpress.com.

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