Entering Monday on a two-game winning streak, the Gulls were determined to maintain their consistent performances in the NECBL Southern Division against the Mystic Schooners. In a thrilling game witnessed by 2,631 fans at Cardines Field, a walk-off single by outfielder Jose Vizcaino Jr. propelled the Gulls to a 3-2 victory over the Schooners.
After being held scoreless for the first four innings by Schooners starter Nolan Long, the Gulls were the first to get on the scoreboard when Tanner Donnels blasted his first home run of the NECBL season over the right field wall to propel the Gulls ahead, 1-0.
Making his second start of the season against the Schooners, southpaw Anthony Misiewicz continued to assert his dominance against the Schooners lineup. In 7 2/3 innings, the junior from Michigan State allowed one run on six hits, striking out fiv batters. Misiewicz went on a string in which he retired six consecutive batters, which spanned from the fourth until the start of the seventh innings.
Even though Misiewicz was virtually untouchable in the first six innings, the Schooners got to him in the top of the seventh. With no outs, Stephen Laurino crushed a shot off the center field fence, enabling Wiegel to score from first, and tying the score at one. After Aaron Hill walked, manager Mike Coombs gave Misiewicz a significant confidence boost during a routine mound meeting. In the ensuing at-bat, Chase Livingston grounded into a 5-3 double play, enabling the Gulls to escape the jam.
In the bottom of the seventh, Blaise Salter launched a fastball from Long deep over the fence in right-center field, giving the Gulls a 2-1 lead. The homer was Salter’s fifth on the season, and his third in the last three games.
Misiewicz came back on the mound in the eighth. Despite allowing a single to Matt O’Herron, Misiewicz retired the next two batters he faced. With Misiewicz’s pitch count looming around 100, Gulls manager Mike Coombs decided to make the call to the bullpen, bringing Armand Rugel into the game. Inheriting a runner on second, Rugel struck out Toby Handley to end the inning, keeping the Gulls’ 2-1 lead intact.
Rugel came back on the mound for the ninth inning. The righty from Stonehill College struck out Zachary Weigel, dealt a groundout to Laurino to get the first two outs. However, after hitting Dan Hoy with a 1-2 fastball, pinch-hitter Brad Zunica lofted a ball to deep left field for an RBI double, bringing home Hoy to tie the game up at two apiece.
With Alex Vargas on the hill for the bottom of the ninth, Salter launched a gigantic shot off the wall in left field for a leadoff double. Salter’s double was followed up by a fielding error by Hoy at shortstop, allowing Donnels to reach base. A sacrifice bunt by PJ Jones moved both runners in scoring position, setting things up for Vizcaino Jr. Vizcaino Jr. chopped a shot over the head of Laurino at first. Ryan Tufts (who came into the game as a pinch-runner for Salter) scored the game-winning run, and the Gulls secured a walk-off victory over the Schooners, 3-2.
After the Gulls corralled a walk-off victory, they extended their winning streak to three games. Improving their record to 14-5 in the 2014 season, the Gulls sit 1 ½ games behind the Plymouth Pilgrims (who won both games of a doubleheader versus the North Adams SteepleCats on Monday).
The Gulls have an off day tomorrow, but return to Cardines Field on Wednesday to host the Valley Blue Sox for the only time in 2014. Mike Mancuso (1-0, 2.16 ERA) will get the start for the Gulls, while the Blue Sox counter with Tucker Simpson (0-0, 1.08 ERA). Gates open at 5, while first pitch will commence at 6:35 pm.