Melrose – The Middlesex Expos scored four runs in the first inning and then blanked Lexington for the first six innings to win the team’s first Intercity League Championship.
Leon Paulino closed out the first inning scoring with a 2-run home run to right. The ball actually didn’t clear the fence on the fly but landed in Blue Sox right fielder Julian Alvarez’ glove only to pop out when Alvarez’ momentum carried him into the fence and jarred the ball lose and over the fence. The home was Paulinos first of the playoffs and the Expos ninth.
Ryan Cloutier singled and drove in Mike Golankiewicz with the second run and then scored on Paulinos’ home run.
Pitching was the Expos strength, and it was on display throughout the playoffs and especially in the finals. Middlesex came into game four with a 1.67 ERA during the playoffs and a 1.00 ERA vs. Lexington in the finals.
Junior Montero was the starting pitcher for Middlesex and came through with five shutout innings pitched. He gave up three hits, walked two and struck out 6, including 4 straight in the first and second innings.
Montero set down the first six Blue Sox batters before Matt Chatelle singled into right to lead off the third and break up the no hitter.
Chatelle, an incoming first year at Merrimack this fall, drove in the only Sox run in the seventh. Alex Voitik singled to begin the seventh. Eli Perez went into run for Voitik. Andrew Selima dropped in a single in left and both runners moved up an extra base on a throwing error by Middlesex shortstop Jose Paulino. Chatelle grounded out to third with Perez coming home with the lone Lexington run.
This is the second year in the Intercity League for Middlesex, who came over from the Yawkey League. The Expos have finished second in the regular season in both years. In 2021 the Expos lost to Lexington in the finals in three games.
When asked what was different about the Expos from 2021 to 2022, general manager (and 2021 manager) Branden Anderson said, “The players bought into what we were doing.” “We saw what it took to win last season (after losing to Lexington in the finals) and learned from that.”
“We stayed healthy all season,” said manager Paul Grande. “Our core group of players were back, and everyone stayed healthy.”
For the Blue Sox it was the first time losing in the finals since 2014 when the Andre Chiefs defeated them in five games. The loss snapped a six-year reign as Intercity League champions.
Blue Sox manager Rick DeAngelis said, “We offer our congratulations to Middlesex management and players.”
Both teams would like to thank their fans for all their support this season. As the 2022 has come to a close, the Intercity League thanks the fans, friends and families for all their support this season and look forward to 2023.
Written by Bruce Hack, Lexington Media Relations Director