The Billerica baseball team came alive early against visiting Malden Catholic Saturday, putting up a few big innings at Marshall Middle School to rout the Lancers, 14-5, and earn a berth in the state tournament.
The third-ranked Indians (10-2) made contact right from the start against Malden Catholic’s Nick George, scoring four runs in the first inning. George exited after three innings, having allowed six earned runs.
No. 10 Malden Catholic (7-6) made the game interesting, scoring three runs in the fourth and fifth to pull within 6-5. Billerica, however, racked up six runs in its half of the fifth to turn the game into a blowout. Eric Eknaian had a two-run single in the rally.
“Eknaian has been hitting about .400 for us all year,” said Billerica coach Jon Sidorovich. “We moved him up to the cleanup spot and he just can mash. He battles all the time and came in with a big hit for us there.”
The Indians skipper was also happy with the performance of his two pitchers, Chris Murphy and Robby Gambale.
“[Murphy] walked a lot of guys but he’s coming back from an arm problem from the spring so it was good to get him stretched out and to have Robby come in relief was key,” said Sidorovich. “[Gambale is] a competitor and throws a lot of strikes, which is what you want with a big lead.”
Gambale came on after Murphy threw 90 pitches over four innings. Gambale pitched the final three innings to pick up the save.
Billerica celebrated qualifying for the state tournament, but the Indians aren’t done.
“It’s the second straight year [qualifying] after being absent for eight so it’s great to get back in there and stay in there,” Sidorovich said. “Now our goal is to win the Merrimack Valley League and repeat as small school champions.”
St. John’s Prep 6, Chelmsford 0 — Dustin Hunt tossed one-hit ball over six innings and struck out nine to lead the way for the No. 1-ranked Eagles.
Whittier 4, Lowell Catholic 3 — Senior righthander Andrew Wells pitched his 20th career complete game, fanning 11 while walking only two. He also went 3 for 3 with an RBI.
North Reading 8, Amesbury 0 — Dennis Rollfs went 3 for 4 with three RBIs to power the No. 8 Hornets (11-0).
Marblehead 10, Gloucester 5 — Catcher Emily Messinger hit three fence-clearing home runs and drove in six runs for the Magicians (7-4). Her home run tally for the week is now at five, after hitting one Monday and one Wednesday.
Westford 11, Beverly 10 — The No. 6 Grey Ghosts (11-3) were led by junior Jay Drapo’s five goals.
Malden Catholic 13, Nashua North (N.H.) 6 — Senior Joe Buckley led the Lancers’ attack with four goals.
Lynnfield 13, Matignon 4 — Junior attackman Matt Boehner and senior attackman Blake Strader each scored four goals and added two assists for the Pioneers (5-6).