ACTON, Mass. -- It was what one could expect from an early-season baseball game: two teams still working out some kinks, while at the same time showing flashes of what each can be when everything comes together for them.
As dark rain clouds rolled over the field, No. 1 BC High was able to record the final out and fend off a potential seventh-inning rally from No. 10 Acton-Boxborough. The Eagles won on the scoreboard, 15-11, but it left the team feeling like it has a ways to go now that the games count.
“Obviously I’m really happy with the offense,” said BC High (1-0) coach Norm Walsh. “We weren’t swinging the bat well the past few days, so we had a little chat about pitch selection and approach at the plate and I think we re-focused and did what we needed to do offensively.
“We had a couple of defensive lapses, which were uncharacteristic. That was a little bothersome. It’s tough to get on my pitchers at this point, but the big thing is we have to throw strikes. In the last couple of innings, we didn’t throw strikes. It’s not that we don’t have the ability to get people out, because we do. When we threw the ball well through the strike zone, we got outs. It was just giving them free base runners that we can’t afford to have.”
The run production started right from the beginning of the game for BC High. After leadoff hitter Dan Dougherty worked the count full against A-B (0-2) starter Reid Jordan, he belted the payoff pitch over the right field fence to give his team the early lead.
Ryan Tufts, the very next batter, was hit by a pitch. Next, senior catcher Bobby Melley hit a rocket double all the way to the fence, which allowed Tufts to score all the way from first. A-B was already playing from behind before it got a chance to bat.
Jordan left the game after four innings, giving up nine runs. The A-B relief pitchers did not fare much better. The Eagles scored at least one run in each inning besides the last.
Conversely, BC High’s Tommy McDonald gave up seven runs, lasting five innings, giving up eight hits and three walks.
Colonials keep it close: It was not all smooth for BC High, however. Over the course of the game, defensive lapses allowed A-B to prolong innings, and ultimately generate runs.
In the third inning, a hit batsman and a single put runners on first and second with one out. A-B’s Ryan McDonald hit a grounder at Tufts, who fielded it cleanly on the edge of the grass. Rather than throwing over to first to get the sure out, Tufts turned around and tried to tag out Billy Jackman. He was too late, as Jackman beat him to the bag by several steps. He still threw over to try to get the out at first, but McDonald beat out the throw, thus loading the bases.
That turned into a three-run inning for A-B, making it a 5-4 game.
In the fifth, A-B had the bases loaded and already scored a run. Brendan Phelan hit a line drive at shortstop Jake Marotta, but the ball hit off his glove and into the outfield. What could have ended the inning lead to A-B to two more runs.
“We made mistakes, errors, judgment stuff, stuff that probably could have put four or five more runs on the board for them,” said Melley. “We could cut down on that. In close games, we’re going to need stuff like that to win ball games.”
Walsh credited those mistakes to where his team is in the season, believing they aren’t emblematic of the team as a whole.
“I think those are early season jitters,” he said. “Over the process here, I don’t think that’s going to continue by any means. I think we’re going to be a very good defensive team.”
Melley Mashes: In the fifth, Melley came to bat with a runner on second. The left-handed hitting catcher took the first two pitches, making the count 2-0.
Earlier in the game, he had hit the ball well against Jordan, but this time, he was up against junior Andrew Sweet. In what can only be characterized as a hitters count, Melley got a chest-high fastball and was able to get under it and get a good enough part of the bat on it to muscle it out of the park for a two-run home run. It was an impressive fete of strength for the senior captain.
“I was looking for a fastball, and I was comfortable against (Sweet) and what he was throwing to me,” he said. “I saw the fastball, probably about head-level. I really did get under it but I had enough to get it in the wind and get it out of there.”