Somerville’s infield committed three errors, and Cambridge’s offense turned them into three unearned runs, giving the Falcons a 3-1 win over the Highlanders Wednesday afternoon at St. Peter’s Field in Cambridge.
Cambridge freshman Eric Sokol-Smith earned his third win of the season, while Somerville freshman Ryan Nolan lost his first varsity start.
The Falcons entered the bottom of the fourth trailing, 1-0. Nolan already had breezed once through their lineup, using a lively yet accurate fastball to help retire all nine hitters consecutively.
“This is an aggressive group,” said Cambridge coach Michael Caron. “They tried to get aggressive right off the bat, and they wanted to jump all over him. The problem was, they were just swinging so early, and they weren’t waiting on the ball.”
With one out in the fourth, Somerville’s defense began to struggle. Cambridge catcher Joey Kozlowski hit a grounder to shortstop Zack Sciuto, whose throw to first pulled senior Josh Weiand off the bag. Kozlowski immediately stole second base. Then Somerville second baseman Joey Braga lost a popup in the overcast sky, allowing Manny Lugo to reach.
Kozlowski and Lugo then executed a double-steal, and sophomore Ted Downing tied the game with a sacrifice fly.
“We spend some time every single day at practice working on bunts, working on hit-and-runs, working on executing suicide squeezes, things of that nature,” Caron said. “So I think that definitely helped us out in the situation that we were in today, moving guys across, moving guys over. Obviously today it helped us secure the win, so it paid off.”
Sam Talarigo put the Falcons up, 2-1, on a single up the middle, advanced to second on the throw home, then went to third on a single by Sokol-Smith. With men on the corners, the Falcons tried to execute another double-steal, but Weiand alertly abandoned trying to run down Sokol-Smith, instead throwing home to nail Talarigo and end the inning with Somerville down just a run.
Cambridge added an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth, when another error by Sciuto allowed center fielder Koby Shafer-Schweig to get all the way to third with one down. Elijah Booker then lofted a ball to shallow right field.
Shafer-Schweig tagged up and just barely beat the throw to the plate for the 3-1 lead.
Though Sciuto made two errors, he also made the two best defensive plays of the game: a leaping catch that robbed Mario Vasquez in the second, and a diving stop behind second base with a throw to first from his knees to force out Lugo in the sixth.
“He’s a very aggressive kid out there, going after all those balls, all those nice plays,” Somerville coach Mike DiCato said of Sciuto. “Sometimes when you’re aggressive, you’re going to miss one or two. He’s been making plays all year.”
The Falcons’ two-run lead was more than enough of a cushion for Sokol-Smith. Complimenting his fastball with a sharp curveball, he pitched a complete game, giving up just one earned run on five hits, two walks – both in the first inning – and five strikeouts. Following Highlander sophomore Jonathan Santana’s single to lead off the top of the seventh, Sokol-Smith struck out the side to end the game.
“My arm seems to build up as I go in the game, somehow,” said Sokol-Smith. “I stopped aiming the ball and started really throwing going with my instincts, and it helped me a lot.”
Errors may have tired Nolan in the fourth, but he still finished the game, giving up three unearned runs on two hits, no walks, and three strikeouts in six innings.
“That was very impressive to see out of a freshman, throwing strikes all game,” DiCato said. “Good tempo, fun ballgame to be a part of. Even though we got the loss, we were competing. He pitched an outstanding ballgame.”
The Highlanders used smallball to take a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Braga drew a leadoff walk, then went to second on a perfect sacrifice bunt from Sciuto. Two batters later, senior Jeff Wairi drove in Braga with a single to center field.
With the win, Cambridge improved to 6-4 and 1-3 in the Greater Boston League. Somerville fell to 2-7 overall and 0-4 in the GBL.