Jared Freni tossed a complete game two-hitter and Peter Copa (pictured at right) drove in six runs, which included a third inning grand slam, to lead the Chiefs to a 9-0 win over the Reading Bulldogs on Wednesday night at Maplewood Park. With the win, the Chiefs take a 1-0 lead in the best of five semi-final series.
Reading got their first hit when Tommy Buonapane drilled Freni’s third pitch of the game to left-field for a single. After Hank Oringer struck out, Freni caught Buonapane leaning the wrong way and picked him off first. Freni struck out Zac Talis swinging to end the inning.
The Chiefs picked up a run in the bottom of the first inning. Tony Serino led off and was thrown out at first on a nice play by Oringer at third. Tony Deshler was next and he hit a ball to left that bounced high on the Maplewood turf and over Dante Padovani’s head, rolling to the fence for a triple. Juan Portes followed and hit a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Deshler. Reading starter Nick Boutoures then got Copa to fly out to end the inning.
Freni struck out the Bulldog side in order in the top of the second and the Chiefs threatened to add to their lead in the bottom of the inning. Mike Andre got things started with the first of his three hits on the night, a single to center. A Nate Witkowski grounder moved Andre to second and Paul Yanakopoulos’ hopper to shortstop pushed him to third. Mike Barbati was next and he drove a ball into the right-centerfield gap. Colin Sitarz turned in the defensive gem of the game when he tracked it down, robbing Barbati of extra bases and ending the inning.
The Bulldogs made a bid to tie the game in the top of third. Padovani singled with one out. Barbati then turned in his own defensive gem when he went far to his left to take a hit away from John Halsey, with Padovani going to second on the play. With Buonapane at the plate, Padovani moved to third on a passed ball before Freni struck him out looking to keep the Chiefs in the lead 1-0.
The Chiefs broke things open in the bottom of the third. Nick Leva and Serino drew consecutive walks and Deshler moved them up a base with a sacrifice bunt. The Bulldogs then intentionally walked Portes to load the bases. Copa quickly unloaded them when he drilled a Boutoures fastball deep over the leftfield fence for a grand slam upping the lead to 5-0. Andre followed with a single before Witkowski lined to left and Yanakopoulos flew to center to end the inning.
Freni got the Bulldogs in order in the top of the fourth on a pop up to Copa and a couple of grounders to Barbati at second base.
The Chiefs got singles from Barbati and Leva to open the fourth and they moved up to second and third on a wild pitch. They came up empty when Boutoures got Serino to fly to shallow left, Deshler to ground out to third with Originer throwing Barbati out at the plate, and Portes to fly to center.
Both sides went in order in the fifth inning.
The Chiefs picked up four runs in the bottom of the sixth. Yanakopoulos drew a walk, stole second, and went to third on Barbati’s single to center. Leva then drew a walk to load the bases. Serino then lifted a single to center, scoring Yanakopoulos and Barbati. After Deshler flew out and Portes grounded out, singles by Copa and Andre accounted for the Chiefs’ final two runs.
Freni retired the Reading side in order in the seventh for the fourth straight inning to seal the shutout win.
Game Two of the series will be played at Endicott College in Beverly, MA on Thursday night at 7:45 PM with Game Three back at Maplewood/Malden Catholic on Friday at 8:00 PM.
For fans looking to make the trip to Endicott College on Thursday, the GPS address is 376 Hale Street, Beverly MA, 01915.
- Information from the Andre Chiefs. Photo by Jim Valente.