BOSTON -- With two starting pitchers dealing on a chilly April night, Catholic Memorial head coach Hal Carey decided to be aggressive in the bottom of the second inning.
The score was tied 1-1 with two outs when Knights’ No. 8 hitter Kevin Lynch reached base on an error. A couple pitches into the next at-bat, Lynch took off for second, drawing a throw from the Eagles’ catcher. But while the ball flew through the air, Catholic Memorial captain Aaron Clancy took off for home, and scored what would eventually stand as the game-winning run in a 2-1 victory.
“We had two strikes on our number nine hitter, and we figured we’d try to take a chance on the steal,” explained Carey. “If they threw through [to the second baseman], we would send the guy from third, and fortunately both our guys got good jumps and we were able to get a run out of it.”
Both Catholic Memorial (4-4) and Boston College High (3-4) play in the competitive Catholic Conference, where wooden bats and excellent pitching leads to plenty of low-scoring contests.
For Eagles head coach Norm Walsh, a lack of recognition on that double steal was an inexcusable lapse in a tight ball game.
“I was disappointed in our lack of aggressiveness defensively,” Walsh commented. “We basically gave them two runs by not being aggressive. First we laid back on a ground ball, and then on the throw to second we didn’t anticipate that the guy was going to go home. It’s a read play, but we didn’t read it right, and those two plays were the difference in the game.”
Pitching In Close Games: Catholic Memorial starter Tyler Bell (CG, 3 H, BB, 1 ER, 6 K) came away with the victory, but his adversary also performed very well.
BC High’s Sean Holleran (6 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 2 ER, 9 K) fell victim to some unfortunate bounces in a troublesome second inning, but seemed to improve as the game went along, and struck out the side in the bottom of the sixth inning to keep the Eagles within a run.
A pitcher’s duel seems to be the status quo in the Catholic Conference, and the Knights were grateful to come out on top on Monday evening after losing their first two conference games in extra innings.
“There’s a lot of close games in this conference that could go either way, and it’s fun to be a part of it, but obviously it’s a lot more enjoyable when you win them,” said Carey.
He went on to praise the effort of his starting pitcher, “[Bell] was great, and we needed every bit of his effort since we only got two runs. Fortunately he got better as the game went along and held [BC High] to one run, which is quite an accomplishment.
Bell nearly wound up on the wrong side of the decision when Eagles slugger Steve Ohanesian turned on a fastball and hit a towering fly ball down the left field line in the top of the fourth inning. With a runner on first base, a home run would have put BC High on top, but the ball hooked foul, and Bell bounced back to strike Ohanesian out on a high fastball a few pitches later.
As Carey recognized, every break is huge in a close game, whether it comes on the defensive side of the ball, or on the base paths.
“Every extra base you can take is important,” said Carey. “You have to earn everything you get in this league. You have to make good pitches, attack the baseball from the batters’ box, and when someone misplays a ball, you have to take advantage of it.”