Loss leader: Mariners ready for title tilt despite dropping extra innings game to Milton

Eli Pearlstein

The Swampscott American Legion Post 57 Mariners suffered their first setback in their long and arduous quest for a state championship with a 9-8 extra-innings loss to Milton at Hudson’s Riverside Park Aug. 7.

The locals, who still retain the No. 1 overall seed in the state finals despite the loss, will play for their first state championship since 1995 against the winner of the Brockton/Milton game scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, followed immediately by the state title clash with Swampscott at 7:30 p.m.

Swampscott, who had previously beaten Milton Post 114 on Aug. 5 in a wild 8-7 extra-innings affair, came out a little flat offensively after its victory earlier in the day against Walpole, but found their collective comfort zone in the top of the fourth against a well-rested squad from Milton.

Wes Geraci led off the inning with a walk and advanced to third on a Peter Kinchley single to center. Andrew Dewing then stepped to the plate and roped a single to right to score Geraci and give the Mariners a 1-0 lead. John Hicks followed Dewing with a liner off the shortstop’s glove into leftfield to score Kinchley with the second run.

Milton didn’t wait long to respond against Swampscott starting pitcher Ryan Squires. Squires, who has had a significant layoff since his most recent appearance on the mound, struggled with his control to the tune of three walks and one hit batter as he attempted to shake off the rust in the fourth, resulting in two Milton runs to even the score at two.

Milton added another run in the fifth, but with two on and one out Squires buckled down to record back-to-back outs to halt Milton’s momentum and keep the deficit to just one.

Swampscott wasted little time erasing that deficit. With two outs and the bases empty in the sixth, Dewing continued his postseason power surge by crushing a mammoth homerun over the leftcenter field fence to even the score at three. It was his third round tripper in four games.

After an easy sixth inning for Squires on the mound, the locals proceeded to explode for five runs in the seventh courtesy of some timely hitting and a Milton meltdown on the hill.

Steve Moran led off with a sharp single to right-center field. Chris Nemeskal followed with a walk and Brendan Garner laced a base hit to left to load the bases. Milton then changed pitchers and brought in reliever Greg Potts to try to stop the bleeding. Potts proceeded to walk Geraci, scoring Moran with the go-ahead run.

After a wild pitch brought home Nemeskal, Peter Kinchley walked. With Shribman at the plate, Potts uncorked another wild pitch, allowing Garner to score and increasing the advantage to two. Shribman struckout looking, but with Dewing at the plate Potts threw another wild pitch, allowing Garner to score doubling the lead to 6-3.

Dewing followed with an RBI single to center scoring Garner with the seventh run. Potts then managed to fan Hicks, but strike three was a wild pitch, allowing Hicks to advance to first and allowing Kinchley to score the eighth run.

Milton got two back in the seventh to cut the lead to 8-5, but in the top of the eighth the game began to get ugly.

Dan Glabicky relieved Squires, who had pitched a gutsy game despite the long layoff (seven innings, five hits, seven walks, five earned runs, two strikeouts) and issued a walk to the first batter he faced. Tom Kelly proceeded to launch at two-run homerun over the leftfield fence to cut the deficit to 8-7. However, Kelly was ejected from the game shortly after crossing the plate for taunting Glabicky.

After a scoreless ninth, Milton came to the plate trailing by a run. But the Milton first base coach was tossed from the game for arguing a non-call as the Milton fans and players alike proceeded to trade barbs with the umpires in an increasingly hostile atmosphere.

Milton managed to push the tying run across in the ninth, and after a scoreless 10th for Swampscott Milton loaded the bases with no outs and won the game with a single.

Swampscott manager Jeff Newhall was characteristically upbeat and composed following his team’s first postseason loss.

“This game is already gone from our system,” Newhall said. “We’re still playing great baseball and we’ll be more-than-ready to go [Wednesday] night for the state championship.”