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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
On Thursday afternoon, the Westwood High varsity baseball team traveled to take on Dover-Sherborn in a battle for first place in the TVL. Behind a solid performance on the mound by Holden Ferrari (five innings, two earned runs, three hits, nine strikeouts) and some late heroics at the plate by James Wright, the Raiders (8-4) took down the Wolverines (7-4) by a final of 3-2 to take over sole possession of first place in the conference.
Ferrari found himself in a bit of early trouble, walking a man and allowing a single to Brian Guarino to begin the game. However, he settled in, striking out two and picking off the runner at second base to end the inning.
Mark Bernardo (six and two-thirds innings, three runs, seven hits, three strikeouts) got the start for Westwood on Thursday, and despite being handed the loss, delivered a solid performance. Luke Turo led off the bottom of the first for DS with a double into the gap in left-center. James Wright moved Turo over to third on a sacrifice bunt before Mark Scurrah lined out to second base. Despite going hitless during the rest of the inning following the leadoff double by Turo, the Raiders were able to take a 1-0 lead on a passed ball to the backstop.
Ferrari again found himself in a bit of trouble in the second inning after issuing back-to-back walks, but like the first inning, found a way to get himself out of it by striking out the side and stranding a pair of Wolverines on first and second, as the Raiders held on to their 1-0 edge after an inning and a half.
In the home half of the second, Holden Ferrari ripped a single into left with one out and proceeded to swipe second. Ferrari advanced to third on a groundball to second base, but was ultimately left stranded after a pop out to the catcher ended the inning.
Westwood was finally able to break through at the plate in the top of the third inning, as following a leadoff walk by Anthony Fabiano, Aidan Fitzgibbon launched a ball over the left-center field fence to give Westwood the lead at 2-1. Ferrari was able to limit the damage to just two runs in the inning despite surrendering a single to Ben Shields following the homer, as he was able to get Mark Bernardo to fly out to left, a lineout to shortstop, and a Brian Guarino groundout to second.Thanks to a pair of nice scoops at first by Ben Shields, Bernardo was able to get the first two DS batters of the third inning (Matthew Strong and Luke Turo) to ground out to third base. James Wright then cracked a single into right field to put a runner on with two outs. Following a swinging bunt by Mark Scurrah, catcher Brian Guarino put an end to the inning as he leaped out of his stance, pounced on the ball in front of the plate, turned and fired a strike to first to end the inning on a bang-bang play.
A throwing error by Holden Ferrari on a ground ball back to the mound gave the Wolverines a runner at second base to begin the top of the fourth inning. However, Ferrari brushed it off and struck out the side to leave yet another Westwood baserunner stranded in scoring position, and the game entered the bottom half of the fourth with Westwood still ahead by just one.
Eric Levine and Ryan Sliwinski were each able to reach base after being hit by a pitch to begin the bottom of the fourth for DS. After a deep fly-out by Holden Ferrari to right field, Levine was able to tag and move to third to put runners at the corners with one out. Sliwinksi snagged second base on the ensuing at-bat due to fielder’s indifference. Hank Reinhart then slapped a chopper past the mound that was fielded by Bernardo. Bernardo chose to take the sure out at first base, allowing Levine to break home and tie the game at two. Bernardo then got Trevor Bowman to fly out to left field, stranding the go-ahead run at third in Sliwinski.
Ferrari struck out the first batter he faced in the top of the fifth before issuing a four-pitch walk to Ben Shields. Westwood opted to have John Norton pinch run for Shields, but unfortunately for the Wolverines, Norton was gunned down at second on a steal attempt on an extremely close play. Ferrari then got Trevor Fahey to groundout to short to end the inning.
Matthew Strong led off the bottom of the fifth inning for DS with a single to center, but like Norton during the Westwood half of the fifth, Strong was gunned down at second by Brian Guarino on a steal attempt. Luke Turo drew a seven-pitch walk in the ensuing at-bat for DS, but Bernardo was able to get James Wright to ground into a fielder’s choice. Mark Scurrah then popped out to Guarino behind the plate to end the inning.
Mark Scurrah came on in relief in the top of the fifth inning, and after giving up a leadoff single to Ryan Shea, settled in and impressed ever so greatly by striking out the side. Westwood stuck with Bernardo in the bottom of the sixth, and he delivered a 1-2-3 inning with a ground out, a strikeout, and a Hank Reinhart fly-out to left.
The Wolverines were able to put a runner at first to lead off the top of the seventh, thanks to an infield single by Thomas Bean. Bean then swiped second base to put a runner in scoring position with nobody out, but unfortunately for Westwood, Scurrah hit the clutch button, striking out the side and keeping the game tied at two heading into the bottom of the seventh.
Owen Webb began the bottom of the seventh inning by mashing a single into center field. Bernardo countered by striking out Matthew Strong on six pitches. A passed ball on the ensuing at-bat by Luke Turo moved the game-winning run into scoring position as Webb took second. After Turo flied out to center, James Wright stepped in with two outs with the chance to be the hero for the Raiders. On a 1-1 count, Wright cracked an outside fastball to the opposite field down the first base line, plating Owen Webb from second base and giving the Raiders the dramatic 3-2 walk-off win - as well as first place, for the time being, in the TVL.