By Al Pike
NEWMARKET — In a game where runs figured to be scarce, USA MAVERICK Wes Tobin took care of that with one swing of the bat. The big right-hander gave up one hit and accounted for all the scoring with a second-inning grand slam as the Portsmouth Christian Academy baseball team blanked Newmarket, 4-0, in a Monday matchup that featured two of the top pitchers in Division IV.
Tobin turned on a 2-2, hanging curveball and launched a line drive that cleared the fence in left field to give himself more than enough offensive support as he went about the business of shutting out the Mules for the second time this season.
"I had a lot of focus," Tobin said. "You always have a lot of focus when you're facing a big rival. It was good to get out there and get a few calls early, and that helped expand the strike zone for me late."
The senior struck out 11 and walked none. He allowed just three baserunners, including a single up the middle with one out in the second by Newmarket ace Aaron Pomeroy for the Mules' only hit.
The Eagles hadn't played in nine days, and that gave Tobin time to work on his secondary pitches, which kept the Newmarket hitters off balance.
"He hasn't had command like that since opening day against these guys," said PCA coach Brad Taylor. "When he has command of his off-speed pitches those guys don't know what's coming, and he's unstoppable."
"(Tobin) throws hard, he's got a good curve and he's always around the plate," said Newmarket coach Stan Jurkoic, "so you've got to be ready to swing."
With one out in the second, he hit PCA's Chris Hollis with a pitch, then issued back-to-back walks to Josh Rocconi and Will Holman.
Pomeroy struck out the next batter and had Tobin 0-2, but couldn't put him away. After taking two close curves that were called balls, Tobin was sitting on the next one. "I threw him two good curveballs that I thought were strikes," Pomeroy said. "I was feeling confident with the third one because I was snapping my wrist pretty good, and then he sailed one on me." The next batter, Joe Towle, beat out an infield grounder to third for the Eagles' second and last hit.
Pomeroy also walked one and hit a batter in the first.
"Runs are hard to come by when you're facing a pitcher like that," Tobin said. "You've got to scrape runs together, and luckily for us he made a mistake and it got hit."
Tobin threw just 78 pitches as the Eagles improved to 7-2 with their fifth win in the last six outings. Tobin and PCA also beat the Mules, 7-0, on opening day. He fanned six of the last nine batters he faced Monday.
"It's a real pick-me-up," Taylor said. "It's a huge win. You want a top-four seed."
By Dan Doyon
EXETER — Facing a team that has slugged its way to victories, Exeter High School and USA MAVERICK Cody Morissette was the definition of an ace.
Alvirne was tied for second place in the Division I baseball standings on the strength of an offense that averaged 8.5 runs per game entering Monday afternoon’s showdown with the first-place Blue Hawks, but the Broncos’ five-game winning was halted by a sophomore right-hander who is only getting better down the stretch.
Morissette allowed four hits and hurled his third straight complete game to lead Exeter to a 4-0 victory over the Broncos, keeping the 11-1 Blue Hawks ahead of Bedford (10-2) atop the Division I standings. Exeter rebounded from last Friday’s 8-6 loss to Bedford with Saturday’s 6-5 victory over Salem.
“I feel like this one of my better (starts), all of my pitches were working and my teammates made some big plays behind me,” Morissette said. “Today was huge. A good Alvirne team came in here hitting well, pitching well, and we took care of business.”
Morissette improved to 5-0 on the season and lowered his ERA to 1.50, as he’s only given up two runs since allowing three earned runs in a season-opening 16-6 win over Spaulding. Morissette struck out four, walked two and a hit a batter on Monday.
“He’s been pretty consistent; all the games are largely the same,” Exeter coach Kevin McQueen said. “He’s limited his walks and he’s very tough when he gets his breaking ball over. He gets ahead of hitters, our defense has played well behind him and he’s done a great job for us at this point.”
Alvirne (9-3) threatened after Morissette struck out the first two batters in the top of the third inning. Matt McKinley reached on a bunt single and D.J. LaMothe walked. With pitcher and No.3 hitter Dan Brown in the box, Morissette spun around and picked off McKinley at second base to escape the inning.
“That was a big play with our No. 3 hitter up and a guy going to UMass-Amherst up; that’s a crucial situation,” Alvirne coach Mike Lee said. “That was a big turning point in the ballgame. Other than that, (Morissette) was pretty much in control.”
Alvirne stranded two more runners in the top of the fourth, when Exeter broke through with five hits against Brown in the bottom of the inning.
Morissette and Jared Brescia led off with hits, followed by USA MAVERICK Mike Sterritt’s RBI single. Sterritt scored after an error on MAVERICK Sean Lavery’s fielder’s choice, and Mason Wallace drove in a run with a feet-first slide into first base to beat second baseman Eddy Sweeney’s throw for an infield single that gave Exeter a 3-0 lead.
“Brown is a solid pitcher and we made the most of the opportunities we got today,” McQueen said. “We hit some balls hard early in (the fourth inning) — and (Wallace) beating out that infield hit was all effort. You like to see that and that gives everyone a lift.”
Exeter tacked on a run after hits by Brescia and Sterritt in the fifth, ending Brown’s day after giving up eight hits and striking out three.
“We played well defensively, Cody pitched well and we got some timely hits to support the effort,” McQueen said. “It was a nice win against a very, very solid Alvirne team that had been playing well."
“I feel like we’re playing better baseball, but I feel our best baseball is still to come,” Morissette said. “I feel like in the next couple of weeks we’ll be playing our best baseball.”