Rockets soar to 3-0 win with over Tanners in baseball | Sports


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WOBURN — In an early-season showdown between two baseball teams with Middlesex League Liberty title aspirations, it was Reading High which proved to be a little ahead at this point in time with a 4-0 shutout of Woburn on Tuesday at Carroll Field.

Colin Ensminger (2-0) scattered four hits over five innings, and relievers Colby Robinson and Evan Ventura pitched one strong inning each, combining on a five-hit shutout.

Tanners’ ace Owen Ackerman (1-1) also pitched well, as did left-hander Connor Welch in relief, but the defense was a little flat behind Ackerman, and the bats a little quiet on offense.

“Mentally we weren’t there,” said Woburn coach Joe Wells. “Owen pitched great for us, and Welchie came in and did the same. We talked yesterday about the mental toughness of a game after yesterday, storming back in the late innings, but you could see mentally we weren’t here.”

Reading remained unbeaten at 3-0 as it rose to the challenge, playing flawless defense after getting out to an early lead.

“They’re all big games, especially this early in the season when we all haven’t had a chance to be outside much,” said Reading coach Dave Blanchard. “Everyone is kind of working the kinks out. We don’t take anyone lightly, and Woburn has come a long way in the last couple years under Joe. Any time you get on the diamond with them it’s going to be a game, and today was just that. Obviously we can do things better, but I’m happy with the result.”

The Rockets took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, after Ackerman set down the first two batters quickly. Nick Bartalini kept the inning alive by beating out an infield hit, and then Michael Fabiano got a hold of a pitch and drove it up the gap in right-center for a run-scoring triple.

Reading got two more infield singles from Matt Walsh and Ensminger, the first one scoring Fabiano with the second run.

The Tanners got a leadoff single, and a stolen base, from Mike Chiodo, but Ensminger set down the next three batters in order to retire the side. In the second, Dan DeFeo got a two-out single, but Ensminger got the last batter on a strikeout to get out of trouble quickly.

“We were hitting the ball hard, but right at people,” said Wells. “We couldn’t get anything going offensively, but hats off to their kid, he pitched well. He kept us off balance.”

Reading had gotten another run in the top of the second to make it 3-0. Jack Raimo led off with a single and an error on a pickoff throw put him on second. He scored on a two-out single by Ben Wright.

“Defensively, we had balls hitting off gloves and dropping balls here and there,” said Wells. “These are plays we have to make, and these are plays these guys make if we are mentally on our game.”

Ensminger continued to roll along, allowing another two-out hit in the fourth. After Dan DeFeo led off the Woburn fifth with a single, he was quickly erased on a 6-4-3 double play.

“Colin is a senior captain and an All-Star from last year,” said Blanchard. “He started the game today, and maybe he was laboring at first, but he got his feet underneath him and was outstanding for us. We are going to need that going forward.”

Raimo scored again after leading off the Rocket fourth with yet another infield single. He was sacrificed to second by Matt Ronayne and scored on another two-out single by Wright, making it 4-0. The Reading bats were quiet the rest of the way against Ackerman in the fifth, and Welch in the sixth and seventh.

“I told them after the game we have to do a better job of extending leads,” said Blanchard. “Four runs might feel pretty comfortable, but a team like Woburn can come back on you, demonstrated by their performance yesterday (against Billerica).”

Robinson came on in relief of Ensminger, to start the sixth, and allowed just a two-out single to Mike Arsenault, who stole second. Robinson got the third out on a called third strike. Ventura came on to pitch the seventh and set the Tanners down in order to close out the win.

“The way we have been doing things on the mound, we have been getting contributions from lots of guys,” said Blanchard. “They have all answered the bell.”

The Rockets are now 3-0 in the league, while Woburn is 2-2 overall, 2-1 in the league.

Reading will host Belmont on Thursday (4:15 p.m.) while the Tanners travel to Lexington, also on Thursday (4:15 p.m.).

By Harriet