FRANKLIN, Mass. — Tyler Buck got all the run-support that he needed in Franklin’s 11-2 win over Catholic Memorial yesterday on a sunny afternoon at home.
Turns out the lefthander didn’t need all that much.
Buck scattered six hits and only allowed two earned runs in the first inning as he mowed through the Knights’ lineup for a complete-game victory and the Panthers' 13th in a row. Buck struck out seven and only allowed two men to reach second base in his final six innings on the mound.
“He’s our leader,” said Panthers head coach Dave Niro. “He lost the first game, and now we’ve won 13 in a row. We’ve got three good pitchers and we’ve got a solid defense. We are rolling right now and hopefully we didn’t peak too early.”
The Knights (8-5) were able to tack on two runs in the bottom of the first on a seeing-eye single up the middle by Todd MacDonald and a pickle between second and first that brought home a run. The balls that were hit off Buck weren’t hit all that hard and were placed in perfect positions, which could have wavered the confidence of the Panthers’ starter.
“Those things are the kind of things you can’t prevent as a pitcher,” said Buck. “When you are out there and you see that happen it’s like why is this happening to me? But you’ve just got to shake it off. I know my defense is great behind me, and I know I have what it takes to beat these kinds of teams. That’s the mentality to you need to have going into a game like this.”
Buck settled in nicely and he did so with the help of his curveball. He used the pitch on five of his seven strikeouts, and used the hook effectively against right-handed hitters to either freeze them or make them swing over the top of the pitch.
“I really care about mixing it up and making sure they don’t know what is coming next,” said Buck. “It’s definitely my fastball-curveball combination that is helping me. (CM) is used to seeing pitchers with good velocity, so I used (the curveball) a lot more and they were rolling over on it.”
Skidmore Likes Catholic Conference: Brendan Skidmore sure does like hitting against maybe the premier conference in all of Eastern Massachusetts. Last year as a junior, the Panthers’ shortstop beat Xaverian with a late home run, but this showing might have been a little bit better.
Skidmore went deep twice, once with a grand slam and the other with a solo shot in his final at-bat, to finish the day 4-for-4 with five RBI. He showed off most of his power with blasts to left field, but also went the other way with a sharp single through the right side to come up a triple shy of the cycle.
“They are always great teams to play and we really get pumped up for these kind of games,” said Skidmore.
Not A Bad Fill-In: It wasn’t the way the Panthers would have liked to start their first at-bats when leftfielder Neal Hart fouled a 2-2 pitch off his right leg and had to leave the game. Brad Padula came in to finish off the at-bat and only saw one pitch as he was caught looking.
His second time up was a little bit more like it for Niro. Padula fouled off four pitches and worked a one-out walk to load the bases after seeing 10 pitches. The next batter was Skidmore, who took the fist pitch he saw out for the game changing grand-slam.
“Brad’s a first year player,” said Niro. “He got cut the first two years. He’s come a long way. He’s swinging it at practice and he’s been swinging it pretty good. Brad is our backup left-fielder and we aren’t afraid to use him.”
Niro said Hart had a bad bruise on his right leg and is day-to-day.