Matt Donato (6) cocks and fires home a pitch in the top of the second inning. Photos by Mike Flanagan.
By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Walpole and Braintree High baseball met three times this past spring, twice in the regular season and once in the Super Eight tournament, with Walpole prevailing 4-1 in the tournament’s opening round.
Despite high school season now being in the rear-view and the majority of the players that made up the rosters on both Walpole and Braintree High switching gears for their Legion teams, it was a familiar spot on Friday when Walpole Post 110 hosted Braintree Post 86 in the first round of the District Six playoffs.
Even amidst a more than quality start from Tufts-bound ace Matt Donato (seven innings, one earned run, four strikeouts, six hits), Walpole found themselves down, 1-0, heading into the home half of the sixth. A three-run bases-clearing double by Luke Janowicz gave Walpole its first lead of the game at 3-1. Donato then came back on and shut the door in the top of the seventh for the complete game, advancing Walpole into the winners bracket and sending their rivals from Braintree into the losers bracket of the double-elimination tournament.
Following three quick scoreless innings, Jack McPartlin led off the top of the fourth for Braintree with a single to center. Mike Telleir advanced McPartlin to second with a sacrifice bunt, followed by a walk by Ryan Sorgi to put runners at first and second with one out. D.J. Brown smacked a single to left to plate McPartlin as Braintree took a 1-0 lead after three and a half.
A walk by Aidan Murray and a double to right by Jack Magane put runners at second and third for Walpole with two outs in the bottom of the fifth. However, a pop up to short by Matt Falvey got Braintree out of the jam and preserved their 1-0 lead through five innings.
Jackson Walonis cracked a single to left to lead off the bottom of the sixth for Walpole, followed by Chris McLean wearing a pitch on the arm to put runners at first and second. Will Jarvis drew a walk to load the bases for Janowicz, who delivered a clutch bases-clearing double down the right field line to give Walpole its first lead at 3-1.
Donato induced a pair of groundouts and a strikeout in the top of the seventh as Walpole prevailed by the 3-1 final.
For funny and insightful sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter @fLAno0.