MALDEN, Mass. — Mike O’Keefe knows that nothing is going to come easy for his Chelmsford baseball team this season, and he got a real good sense of his team’s resolve in the very first outing of the year.
The Lions watched a 2-run lead dissipate with one swing of the bat in the seventh inning, but rallied back with three runs in the top of the eighth without recording a hit to snare a 6-3 extra-inning affair over host Malden Catholic (0-1) yesterday.
“I was really proud of our guys,” said O’Keefe. “We didn’t put our head down and we sort of clawed back right away. That’s the type of team that we are going to have to be. Those are the types of games that we are going to be in all the time. We aren’t the type of team that is going to pound people and score 10 or 15 runs.”
Jake Kelley was maneuvering his way through the Lancers lineup through 6.2 innings, but hit a bit of a thud on the way to the complete game victory. Lucas Lott worked a two-out, pinch-hit walk and the next batter, Steven Passatempo, made everyone’s afternoon a little longer with an opposite field home run to right to tie things at 3.
The Lions wasted little time to help pick up their starting pitcher.
David DeDonato worked a leadoff walk and Mike DeDonato had an interesting time trying to get the former into scoring position. Mike DeDonato fouled off his first two bunt attempts and fought off a couple pitches before the Lancers' catcher had a tough time handling a high pitch from Paul Campbell. David DeDonato moved to second base and Mike DeDonato finally worked a walk after a nine-pitch at-bat.
Matt Rabbito got the intentional pass to set up the force at any base, and Tom Murphy put the go-ahead run back on the board with a sacrifice fly to right.
“I saw fastball right down the middle and saw the infield in, so I had to get a sac-fly to get the runner home,” said Murphy, who went 1-for-3 with two RBI. “That was the most effective way to do it.”
Mason Trubey stung a grounder to shortstop, but the throw to first was high and mishandled by the first basemen to allow two more runs to come home for a 3-run lead and silence the Lancers bench after the tying home run seemed to energize the home dugout.
“When you grab momentum like that you have to finish it off,” said Malden Catholic head coach Steve Frecker.
Joe St. Hilaire closed things out with a 1-2-3 inning for the victory. Kelley was charged with three earned runs on five hits with four strikeouts and three walks in seven innings of work.
Lancers' Lefty Sharp Early: For three-plus innings it looked like the Lions wouldn’t be able to touch Joe Velozo.
The Lancers lengthy junior lefty was hitting both corners with his fastball and challenging right-handed hitters inside to burn through the first 10 hitters of the game. He struck out six in the process — including back-to-back on six pitches to start things.
The second look for the Lions’ heart of the lineup was a little bit different. The Lions stung three straight hits in the top of the fourth to grab a run, and Mike Rosa tacked on another run with a sac-fly to right for a 2-1 lead.
“We were just looking to stay back on his ball,” said Murphy. “He’s a good pitcher.”
“He was dominating,” added O’Keefe. “The first time around we tried to muscle up a little bit and swing harder instead of staying within ourselves and try to shoot the ball the other way.”
Velozo was tagged for three runs on four hits in 6.1 innings with eight strikeouts.