The Yawkey Baseball League championship series got underway when the unbeaten East Boston Expos hung on for a 4-2 win over the Charlestown Townies at Alumni Field in Lowell in the first of a best-of-five matchup.
Matt Costanza provided the offensive punch for the Expos with a pair of hits that keyed rallies to buttress righthander Scott Hall’s complete game on the mound. Costanza’s double in the sixth inning proved crucial. The Townies, who been held hitless through six innings, came to life in the seventh (last) inning with a pair of runs and threatened to torpedo Hall’s effort.
East Boston jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Leadoff hitter Ryan Petrone singled off Townie starter Billy Sullivan then stole second. After Philip Gaines walked, Costanza, who tied for the league batting title with a .513 average, rapped a single to right center to load the bases. Derek Adamson grounded to third to score Petrone and Gaines put East Boston up 2-0 on Brett Samboy’s groundout to first base.
Sullivan quickly settled down, however, and the contest turned into a pitching duel after that. Only Expo Matt Ferro reached base over the next three innings. Meanwhile, Hall ruled from the start as he struck out Townies Ben Adams, Devin Santilli, and Brandon Grover in the first inning and then allowed just one hit, a one-out second inning single by Kyle Halloran, until running into trouble in the seventh.
The Expos stretched their 2-0 lead to 4-0 in the fifth. With one out, Mike Oliveira doubled to left but was erased in a rundown between second and third when Petrone hit into a fielder’s choice. Gaines walked, setting up Costanza once more. Again, the lanky left-handed hitter responded, lacing a double to left-center that pushed Petrone across the plate. Derek Adamson walked to load the bases, then Samboy walked to push Gaines home with the Expos fourth run.
The two extra runs saved the day for the Expos. Down 4-0, the Townies staged an uprising in the seventh that started innocently enough when Santilli tapped a slow roller down the third base line that Hall fielded as Santilli legged his swing into an infield single. Jack Vaccari walked, then a Hall fastball got away and glanced off Halloran’s helmet to load the bases. First baseman Mike Martignetti singled to score Santilli and Vaccari, and the Townies had the go-ahead run at the plate with no outs.
But Hall regained his composure, striking out Charles Auditore and Sean McGivern before Mike Bartlett knocked a grounder to third base that Costanza gobbled up and fired to first for the out, preserving the Expos 4-2 win.
The Expos (14-0) and the Townies (10-3-1) finished 1-2 in the League’s pandemic-shortened season and advanced to the championship round after sweeping their semi-final series 3-0 over the Brighton Black Sox (East Boston) and the Stoneham Sabers (Charlestown). The Expos are new to the Yawkey Baseball League in 2020. The Townies return to the Championship series after a heartbreaking 4-2 series loss to the Revere Rockies that ended on a stunning, walk-off three run homer in Game Six in 2019.