Braintree edges Walpole in marathon extra-inning affair

WALPOLE — Apparently, the Braintree and Walpole baseball teams were in no hurry to see the regular season end.

In a game where extra innings took nearly as much time as the first seven, Josh Donovan singled home the go-ahead run in the top of the 12th and Tyler Curtis made it stand up by finishing off 5 1/3 frames of scoreless relief for the Wamps in a 2-1 victory on Thursday night.

“We have a talented group of guys and I knew we could pull through. I knew we had it in us,” said Curtis. “It was definitely stressful, but this is what I worked so hard for over the winter and this is what I have been living for.”

The win earns Braintree (10-3) the No. 2 seed in the Herget Division and a home game in the upcoming Bay State Conference Tournament, which starts Monday, while Walpole (8-5) will be the No. 3 seed and on the road.

Walpole kept leaving the door open in extras. After playing clean for the first nine innings, the Timberwolves committed five errors in the final three.

Tucker Hazell, Walpole’s third pitcher of the day, managed to work around them in the 10th and 11th, but Donovan finally made the hosts pay in the 12th, lining a ball over first base and inside the line to score Jordan Gorham for a 2-1 edge, the first run scored in 10 innings.

“We had a lot of opportunities to win the game and it just didn’t happen,” said Braintree coach Bill O’Connell. “Josh Donovan, I think that was the third time he came up and had that opportunity and finally delivered.”

Meanwhile, Curtis stranded the potential winning run in scoring position in each of the last three innings in a gutty performance out of the bullpen, scattering four hits and three walks (two intentional) and a hit batter.

The game began as a duel between Braintree’s Chase Cahill and Walpole’s Blake Conroy, who both allowed a single run in the second while working into the seventh. Matt Bianculli was also strong on the mound for the Timberwolves with three scoreless innings.

“I have to give a lot of credit to our pitchers,” said O’Connell. “Chase really battled. He didn’t have his great stuff today, but he did what he had to do, and Tyler Curtis has been doing it all year coming in as a reliever. He just threw a ton of strikes and got a lot of ground balls and we played pretty good defense.”

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