DORCHESTER — After spotting Fenway High 10 runs through the first six innings this afternoon at Roberts Field, Dorchester High avoided being mercied by scoring three runs in the second-to-last inning.
“I was actually a little nervous,” relief pitcher Jeff Pena said after the 10-3 victory. “I knew I could come back if my curve ball was on point and I could shut them down.”
After Dorchester senior pitcher Brian Rijo knocked in freshman second baseman Jose Lorenzo he was tagged out when he overran second base. Senior catcher Jonathan Bunch and junior first baseman Manny Pizzaro both scored before Pena closed the inning with consecutive strikeouts.
“It was a big relief,” Pena said. “I’ve given up games by walks and that’s all I could think about.”
This time around Pena — who moved from shortstop to the mound after the third inning when starting pitcher Eric Candelario’s arm became too sore to continue — didn’t give up a single walk. He finished with five strikeouts.
“I’m pretty sure he’d do the same for me if my arm hurt,” Pena said of Candelario, who didn’t allow a single hit and had three strikeouts. “That’s what teammates do. They just cover.”
Fenway coach Kevin Grogan told Pena before the game to be ready because Candelario’s arm has been bugging him.
Grogan was also extra worried in the sixth inning because Dorchester overcame a 6-2 deficit in the first meeting between the two teams to win 9-6 on opening day.
“I knew they could come back and [Pena] had a good game,” Grogan said. “He stuck with it. Jeff worked hard at it.”
Fenway also won without the services of senior first baseman Luis Melo, who hit a walk-off in the park home run on April 27 to beat Charlestown. The 20-year-old, who repeated the first and third grades, was notified earlier today that he’s too old to play.
MIAA rules state that 19-year-olds can compete as long as their birthday occurs on or after Sept. 1 of that year. Melo, who turned 20 in February, said his paperwork was submitted to BPS before the season.
“They knew I was 20 but let me play until today,” said Melo, who hopes to play for Bunker Hill Community College in the fall.
Grogan said he will appeal the decision.
“I didn’t know the rule, I never ran on it before,” he said. “I give the dates to the school department. They should’ve told me back in February. They told me told me today.”
An email to Athletics Director Ken Still this afternoon wasn’t immediately returned.
“If he says he can’t play he can’t play,” Grogan said of Still’s decision. “He’ll be my assistant coach. He’s a good kid. I like him. I want him to stick around.”