Timothy Fila has never seen his team off to a better start in his eight years managing the Lynn Post 6 American Legion squad.
Going undefeated through its first six games certainly is a feat, but there was one thing in particular that stood out through those first half-dozen games: The team had not allowed a single earned run.
According to Fila, Lynn’s key to success has simply been its ability to get the ball across the plate.
“We’re throwing strikes and not walking too many guys,” Fila said before Tuesday’s matchup against North Andover. “We’ve thrown 40-plus innings and only given up nine walks.”
Before Tuesday’s game, Lynn had given up three unearned runs on the season and four of its six games were shutouts.
Each starter has dominated, but none was more impressive than the no-hit gem spun by Lynn Classical’s Raymundo Gomes on June 20.
Facing Saugus in his first start of the summer, the 17-year-old lefty was only separated from perfection by a third-inning error and a sixth-inning walk, as the native of the Dominican Republic went the distance, while striking out nine.
Gomes didn’t fully grasp the situation until the fifth inning, when he questioned a teammate.
“I asked someone if I was throwing a no-hitter and he said ‘Yeah, you’re throwing a no-no right now,’ so I just tried to keep it on and hit my spots.”
And that is just what Gomes did, completing the game and joining his Red Sox idol, Jon Lester, in the “no-hitter club.”
Gomes moved to the United States with his mother when he was 15, with hopes of improving his baseball skills and earning a better education.
This summer, he’s just focused on playing ball.
“This is what I do. I study, but I really like baseball a lot,” Gomes said. “I’m really trying so hard to study and do well in school, and also to do work here, do what [coach] asks me to do.”
As for the rest of the pitching staff, Gomes’s teammates have dazzled as well.
Matt Burnham, the team’s only collegiate athlete, is off to a 2-0 start with 19 strikeouts through 16 innings pitched. The sophomore out of Indian Hills Community College in Centerville, Iowa, had allowed seven of the team’s nine walks through its first six games, but he has yet to give up an earned run.
Brendan Deleire and lefty Clay Yianacopulas, teammates at St. Mary’s, have also dominated on the mound.
Deleire pitched a shutout in his only start while giving up no walks and striking out seven, while Yianacopulas shut out North Andover in his first start of the summer, striking out 11 in a 5-0 win.
Sitting atop District 8 in first place, Fila is beyond satisfied with the team’s efforts so far.
“We’re dominating right now on the mound, playing good defense, and just getting enough offense to win games.”
But all winning streaks must come to an end: Lynn finally took its first loss of the summer Tuesday to North Andover Post 219.
North Andover overcame a two-run deficit in the seventh inning for a 7-5 victory.
By game’s end, Post 219 — a young team consisting mostly of high school sophomores and juniors — huddled together, smiling and energetic.
Team manager Scott Whitley stood in the middle and told the players that he had never been so proud of their effort.
Lightning flickered threateningly beyond the outfield throughout the game, but the only rain came in the form of runs — a rarity for visiting teams this summer at Breed Junior High School.
It was the second time facing North Andover for Yianacopulas, after throwing a shutout at North Andover High School on June 17.
But this time out, Post 219 solved him, while capitalizing on a mistake-ridden Lynn defense.
Yianacopulas struggled out of the gate and surrendered a leadoff walk, followed by a double and a sacrifice fly to shallow left-center off the bat of Jake Caporale.
Catcher Chris Bosco then whacked a single to right and Lynn’s Dan Donovan hesitated on the relay throw, allowing the second run to come in from second.
Post 6 battled back and eventually gained a 5-3 lead.
Third baseman Victor Molle led the way for Lynn with a single, double, and triple, to go along with three RBIs.
Yianacopulas jogged out to the mound in the seventh, looking to finish up the game and earn his second win in as many tries against Post 219 this summer, but disaster struck as the defense folded behind him.
Yianacopulas gave up a single and an RBI double off the right field fence early in the inning but regained enough control to get two outs.
With runners on first and third, a routine, potential game-ending ground ball was hit to shortstop Cam O’Neill, but he could not field it cleanly as the runner from third scored the tying run.
Then the big blow: another routine ball, this time a pop fly to center fielder Andrew Napoleon, but the ball fell out of his glove and two runs scored.
Lynn could not score in the bottom of the inning and North Andover secured the victory.
Whitley has seen the growth in his team from the first time the two squads faced, and he was enthused by Post 219’s effort.
“They’ve learned how to attack,” Whitley said.
“They get up at the plate now not looking to walk, they’re looking to make things happen.
“Earlier in the year we took too many, we struck out too many times; we struck out 13 times against this team in the first game. Tonight we came ready to attack, batters one through nine.”
It was an unusual outcome for Lynn, as the normally reliable defense hit rock-bottom.
“We just didn’t play well,” Fila said of his team.
“I thought Clay pitched well enough to win, but we obviously didn’t play well enough defensively to finish it up. We just didn’t make the routine plays.”Taylor Snow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @taylorcsnow