BRAINTREE, Mass. -- Pardon the Braintree Wamps if they seemed a bit more amped up than usual.
With a number of the state's high school baseball programs already into their third week of the regular season, the Wamps were not even close. Forced to play the waiting game because of inclement weather and poor field conditions, Braintree literally was the last team standing to open its season.
That day finally came on Wednesday and for the Wamps, it was like ringing the dinner bell for a pack of starving wolves. Poor Silver Lake was the victim of this feeding frenzy after getting thumped 11-3 at a windy Veterans Memorial Field.
No. 3 Braintree (1-0) withstood a three-run first inning barrage by the Lakers, scoring a solo run in the bottom of the frame and tacking on eight more in the second inning to put this non-league contest on ice.
Wamps starting pitcher Scott Creedon shook off some opening game jitters as he kept No. 10 Silver Lake scoreless for the remainder of this contest. Creedon, a junior righthander, went the distance, giving up six hits (four in the first inning) and striking out eight. From the fourth inning on, the right-hander did not surrender a hit.
"It was just a build up of energy after having been indoors for most of the last couple of months," said Creedon. "We all wanted to just get outside, finally play a game and win. We've seen some of the rankings which has had us moved around and stuff because we hadn't played yet. We felt like we were a better team than where we were ranked by some and came out and showed it today.
"I was a little shaky in the first inning but felt more comfortable on the mound after that. It was only my second or third time throwing off a real mound this year. I just seem to have more confidence as the game went on and kept telling myself to throw strikes and pound the zone."
This meeting was a rematch of last year's Super 8 opening round affair won by the Lakers. After that loss, the Wamps were bumped down to the loser's bracket, but incredibly rolled off four straight victories to reach the finals before falling to Newton North.
Down by a pair of runs heading into the bottom of the second, Braintree was finally able to let out weeks of frustration at the plate.
With two outs and Kevin Troy standing on second following his double and Jeff Diauto on first after getting hit by a pitch, Cal Berman singled to plate Troy. Lakers starter Adam Gay then walked Justin Files to load the bases. From there, everything fell apart for Silver Lake. A passed ball scored Diauto, tying matters at 3-3.
Connor Columbus' next singled to left, scoring two more runs and put the Wamps ahead. Will Gallagher was summoned in to pitch but quickly served up an RBI single to Anthony Venuti. On the play, the outfielder couldn't field the ball as it rolled to the fence, thus allowing Venuti to reach third. Colin Rios proceeded by ripping a double to deep center to extend Braintree's lead to 7-3.
Moments later, Erik MacDonald belted an 0-1 fastball deep over the right field fence for a two run home run and a six run cushion for the Wamps.
Silver Lake, less than 24 hours off a 12-inning marathon loss to Plymouth North, looked a bit fatigued from the outset. Its inability to hold a lead is a bit concerning for head coach Ken Tocci.
"We can't seem to get past 3-0 scores," said Tocci, his team now at 2-3. "We've had 3-0 leads against Plymouth North, Xaverian and now Braintree and couldn't hold them. We're just not able to get anybody out. Quite frankly we aren't a very good team right now but it's still early. Swinging the bats isn't the problem. We can't anybody out right so it shows that we are struggling on the mound. I'm a little surprised by that. We have young kids starting on this team so there are some growing pains going on with us right now."
Braintree added two more runs in the fourth. It started with Columbus being hit by a Gallagher pitch and then stealing second. The UMass-bound senior crossed the plate a short time later after an outfielder could not snag Venuti's fly ball. With Venuti standing on second following the miscue, and Austin Piccirilli now in to pitch, MacDonald greeted the righty by smashing a double past the drawn-in infield into right field to send Venuti home. In all, the Wamps finished with nine hits -- four of which went for extra bases.
"Our kids were seeing the ball well," Braintree head coach Bill O'Connell said. "They were chomping at the bit to play and have seen a lot of batting practice during that time. They were finally psyched to finally put it all into play today."
The Lakers were able to jump on Creedon in the initial frame. After fanning the first two batters, Creedon ran into trouble quickly by issuing a single to Videtto. With strong wind gusts blowing out to straightaway centerfield, Creedon next served up a home run to Gallagher that was aided by the wind, to put Silver Lake on top.
But the Lakers weren't done. Gay followed by reaching on an infield single and came around to score on Dan Cole's double to center.
The Wamps got a run back in the bottom of the inning. Berman led off with a walk and moved to second on a wild pitch. Two outs later, Venuti singled in Berman. As a result, that run was only a prelude of bigger things to come.
"I thought our kids showed a lot of adversity right away because coming out of the gates Silver Lake swung the bat really well," said O'Connell, whose club, due to the late start, will now play 19 games over the next 34 days. "But we just showed our leadership and experience and we didn't panic. We were able to get one run back in the bottom of the first to make us feel like we're OK. Then we had that big inning right afterwards."