Photo: Belmont Marauders
It’s all on the line as Belmont High Baseball hosts Reading Memorial High this afternoon, Wednesday, May 24, in what is a one-game, winner takes all contest that will determine the champions of the Middlesex League Liberty Division.
Today’s dramatic finale to the 2017 league season saw Belmont receive a huge break on Tuesday, May 23, from a squad scrambling for its playoff life. Needing to win its remaining games to earn a playoff berth, the below .500 Winchester High Sachems nipped Reading, 4-3, to drop the Rockets’ record to 15-3 and 12-3 in league play.
Belmont was standing at 12-3 in the league as they defeated non-league Arlington Catholic, 5-0, on Tuesday, behind senior reliever Zach Colleran’s first career start. The righty spun a masterful performance on the mound, mixing his fastball with a changeup to go six shutout innings, giving up a pair of hits and earning three Ks.
“I knew I wasn’t going to blow anyone away so I threw pitches that they couldn’t make solid contact,” said Colleran, who earned the win. Junior starter Max Meier got an inning of work in pitching a 1, 2, 3 7th.
Colleran was helped by outstanding plays in the field including from shortstop Steve Rizzuto who dove to snag a grounder heading up the middle, throwing out the runner by half-a-step at first to end the sixth.
Belmont cobbled together 3 runs in the second with Colleran helping himself with a RBI single followed by a sacrifice from first base Dennis Crowley and a RBI knock by senior catcher and captain Cal Christofori.
Crowley scored in the 4th after ripping a double into right, stole third and scored on a fielder’s choice from Colleran.
Junior pinch hitter Andrew Mazzone took a first pitch fastball 322 feet over the right field fence to add the final run of the game in the fifth.
Wednesday’s game (start time 3:45 p.m.) at “The Grant” in Belmont will see not just attempt to grab its first league pennant in more than a decade against the defending champion but also giving the Marauders the opportunity to avenge a 1-0 extra inning loss earlier this month to the Rockets.
Belmont will throw its ace, junior Nate Espelin (5-1), to start. Espelin is coming off a 15 strikeout effort against Lexington and will face the team that defeated him this season.