Dodgers have to settle for tie

The Hollis Brookline Dodgers and Concord (Mass.) Patriots were able to play strong defense until the sun went down on Tuesday.

The bats of both New England Independent Baseball League West Division teams were unable to resolve a 2-2 draw that was called after nine innings.

HB’s Liam Flaherty initiated the hitting and scoring in the bottom of the third inning, with a shot that dropped into left center field that brought in John Beckett from second base.

The run was answered in the ensuing frame when the Dodgers’ Shea Whalen (two strikeouts, two hits, three walks, three innings) filled the bases with a pair of walks and a hit, then forced in a run by plunking Eddie Uong.

Whalen rallied back at the plate in the very next inning by cranking out a shot to deep left field for an RBI double, putting the Dodgers back on top, 2-1.

“When you give up runs like that and then come back and score, it always feels good,” Whalen said.

The top of the sixth saw the game-tying run with Austin Pigott fresh on the mound. With runners at second and third, Ben McClean put a line drive through the infield to bring in lead runner Mike Thienel. Uong nearly followed him for the go-ahead run, but was thrown out at the plate.

“I tip my hat to Concord, they played tough,” said HB coach Tom Walker. “We had a good game though. We were disciplined at the plate. We didn’t take a lot of strikes like we did in the high school season so that’s a good sign.”

The Patriots (2-2-1) were able to put runners on, but the HB defense (3-1-1) tightened up to strand 11. Cam LaFleur (four strikeouts, one walk, two innings) had Ben McClean waiting at third base in the second frame with one out, but retired the next two batters.

“A tie for us (Tuesday) was probably a good thing because (Concord) had a lot of runners in scoring position and our pitchers did a good job and defensively we buckled down,” said Walker.

Cam Chrystal saved a run in the top the third when he launched a throw from centerfield to nail Dan Brockway at the plate. Concord also stranded runners at second and third in the top of the seventh and ninth. Pigott (five strikeouts, two hits, one walk, three innings) stepped onto the mound after the fifth inning and Tommy Grant (two hits, one walk, one inning) was handed the ball for the ninth.

“Those were some of the best pitchers we have seen this year, consecutively,” said Concord coach John Kelly. “They had four legitimate pitchers in a row so they’re going to do very well.”

The Dodgers left eight runners on and had a few opportunities to swing the game in their favor, but the Concord defense refused to budge.

“It’s time for us to experiment and time for some guys to get some confidence,” Walker said. “We might play small ball a little more to scratch for runs, but we want the guys swinging the bat, too.”

The most notable chance came in the bottom of the eighth, with runners at second and third. Hugh Devlin belted a deep shot to left field that had the appearance of a walk-off RBI, but Peter Upham reached out for a backhanded catch on the run.

“Our defense did a nice job for being shorthanded.” Kelly said.

Ben Gainsboro contributed for the Patriots on the mound through all nine innings with three strikeouts, five hits and three walks.