Melrose – Dom Zaher blasted a walk-off home run to left and delivered a 4-3 victory to Lexington over Watertown in game one of the finals.
Zaher hit Watertown starter Matt Horan’s 101st pitch of the night into the night for his first home run of the postseason.
The Reds had their own heroics in the top of the seventh.
Ben Johnston doubled off the fence in left to start off the inning. Will Brennan worked a five pitch walk off of Manny Delcarmen and the Reds had runners on first and second with not outs, down 3-2. Delcarmen fielded a come-backer off the bat of Logan Gillis, turned and threw to second, but the Sox could only get the one out, leaving Reds on the corners. Dan Chaisson hit a ground ball up the middle that second baseman Thomas Russo caught and tagged the base for the force out, but again the Sox were unable to get a double play. This allowed Johnston to come home with the tying run. Another ground ball fielder’s choice ended the inning.
Lexington had taken a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth on Julian Alvarez’ two-run home run to right center, his first of the postseason. He drove in CJ McKinnint who was pinch running for Richie Burgos, whose single started the inning.
All of the scoring took place in the last two innings and the first two innings.
The Blue Sox opened the scoring with a run in the bottom of the first. Jeff Vigurs hit his first of two doubles (and three hits) to left with one out. After the second out and a walk to Burgos, Dorian Rojas singled to left to score Vigurs.
The Reds answered in the second as they loaded the bases on walks to Chaisson and Sean Callahan that were sandwiched around Jake Miller being hit by pitch. Justin Forman was first pitch swinging and singled into left to drive in Chaisson and Miller for a 2-1 lead.
After that the starting pitchers, Horan and the Sox Matt Karis, settled in and held the teams scoreless through the 3rd, 4th, and 5th innings. The only 1-2-3 inning of the game was by Horan in the fourth. The Sox left a runner at third in the third and a runner at first in the fifth. For the Reds they stranded Miller at second (two-out double) and runners at first and second in the fifth.
Horan (1-1) took his first loss of the season, regular or post, pitching six innings, giving up eight hits, walked one and struck out five. The last six batters he faced he gave up three hits, including two home runs.
The Reds offense had been rolling through the playoffs averaging eight runs and 11 hits a game, was held to its lowest output of the postseason with three runs and six hits.
Lexington starter, Karis, was making his first appearance of this postseason. The veteran right-hander pitched 4 1/3 innings, giving up five hits, two walks, and struck out three. Drew Brzozowski relieved Karis in the fifth with one out and a runner on first and got out of the inning. He retired five of the seven batters he faced with two walks. For Delcarmen it was his second win of the playoffs and the first time he was scored upon all season.
The teams return to Morelli Field on Friday night for game two at 8:00 p.m.