HULL, Mass. — William Battis thought the championship game of the Brian F. O’Donnell Memorial Tournament was going to be a low-scoring, tight contest between his Marshfield Rams and the Vikings of East Bridgewater.
Maybe professional prognosticator should be added to his work experience next to baseball coach.
Kevin Kwedor outdueled Casey DeAndrade in one of the best early-season pitching matchups, as the Rams claimed their fifth title in the April vacation tournament with a 3-0 victory against the Vikings today.
The Rams pushed their perfect record to 8-0, while the Div. 3 Vikings took their first loss on the season and are now 8-1 on the year.
“That was a great pitching matchup,” said Battis. “Any time you see that in a high school baseball game you’ve got to love that, very impressive. I was very happy with the way that my guys hung in there, dug in there.”
It was a classic lefty-righty matchup on the mound, and both pitchers were masterful.
Kwedor struck out 10 and scattered five hits in his complete-game effort, while DeAndrade — who is heading to UNH on a football scholarship next year — only allowed one hit and three runs, all unearned, in his 5.1 innings of work.
“He is a great athlete,” Kwedor said of his counterpart. “I’ve faced him in the past as a pitcher and a hitter, and I just tried to outduel him.”
No-Hit, No Lead: For most of the game, DeAndrade was in the unique spot of tossing a no-hitter, but not holding a lead at that point. The righty, with the flowing blonde hair under his brim, gave up three walks in the first five innings without allowing a hit, but one of those free passes came back to bite him.
In the top of the third inning, DeAndrade walked the No. 9 man Collin Ross on a 3-2 count. DeAndrade tried to keep Ross honest at first with a throw over, but the throw was low and in the dirt allowing the Rams’ baserunner to reach second.
Joe Cunningham bunted Ross over on the very first pitch he saw and Max DiTondo pounced on the second with a long fly ball to left-center in the gusty wind for the sacrifice fly and a 1-0 lead.
“It was perfect execution,” said Battis. “We talk about it all the time. We are trying to execute game-in-and-game-out, and against a guy like this you have to.”
DeAndrade again issued a leadoff walk in the top of the sixth inning, this time to Cunningham, and the Rams capitalized on another mishap in the field by the Vikings. Jon Ryan sent a shot to short, and the Vikings shortstop had some trouble with his footing on the throw to get the Rams third basemen in safely.
Mark Pomella earned a walk to load the bases, and the first hit of the game for the Rams gave them the insurance they needed as Mike McGuiggan singled up the middle with the infield drawn-in for a 3-0 lead.
The Real Story: East Bridgewater coach Pat Cronin didn’t beat around the bush with his assessment in his team’s first loss of the season.
“The real story was the kid on the mound for them and our inability to hit that little breaking ball,” he stated.
That little breaking ball from Kwedor was on display several times to get the strikeout numbers up. Kwedor recorded six of his 10 strikeouts with a nasty curveball that busted caught the bottom of the strike zone and had Viking hitters swinging over the top of the pitch.
Kwedor struck out the side in the final inning to use the 3-run cushion to his full advantage.
“His curveball was so good,” said Battis. “It kept the hitters off-balanced and then he straightens you up with his fastball. Inside, outside, it doesn’t get much better than that. He had a real strong day against a good, deep lineup.”