From last place to first-round winners: Lynn defeats Portsmouth in EBBA Quarterfinal Series
The Lynn Live Oaks – winners of exactly zero games in 2013, and four games in the 2014 regular season – beat a shorthanded but valiant Portsmouth Rockinghams team, two games to one, to advance to the 2014 Essex Base Ball Association semifinals.
In Game 1 the Lynn offense scored seven tallies in the first and, despite a couple of furious charges by Portsmouth, never relinquished the lead in a 17-11 victory.
Game 2 offered more suspense. Portsmouth built a solid lead through four innings, but Lynn staged a comeback. With the game tied, Lynn’s Mark Soltysiak, who had craftily stolen second earlier in the inning, charged home on a close play with the tie-breaking tally – but lay writhing in pain at the plate, having seriously injured his knee. Lynn fought to hold the lead Soltysiak worked so hard to gain, but fielding miscues eventually cost them the game, a 16-12 Rockinghams win.
Game 3 was nip-and-tuck all the way, with Lynn taking leads in the top halves of the innings, and Portsmouth battling back in the bottom halves. Up by three tallies in the top of the seventh (the last inning in this one-day, best-of-three playoff format), Lynn exploded for five tallies, and held Portsmouth scoreless in their half for the 20-12 win – the last hand fittingly made on a one-hopper back to Ralph Hebb, Lynn’s storied pitcher and longest-serving player.
After the game we learned that Lynn’s Mark Soltysiak fractured his tibia and will need season-ending surgery. He’s the second Lynn player this season to break a bone on the basepaths in the heat of a close contest – the latest example of the tremendous grit every Lynn player brought to the field this year. Mark will be missed on the field – but we hope in attendance – as Lynn moves on to the next round.
The entire Essex Base Ball Organization thanks the Live Oaks and the Rockinghams for three of the best-played games this year, and also thanks Brian ‘Cappy’ Sheehy and Chris ‘Monkey’ Sheehy for their excellent umpiring thereof.