BG downs Merrimack
MERRIMACK – After an improbable run to the Division I championship game last season, Bishop Guertin stumbled out of the gate with four straight losses to start 2017.
A freshman helped put the Cardinals back on track Saturday at Merrimack.
Brett Anderson struck out nine while delivering 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball, leading BG to a 7-2 victory over the Tomahawks.
Knotted through four innings, the Cardinals (1-4) scored two in the fifth and three in the sixth to seize control of the ballgame. Alex George sparked the offense, finishing 3 for 3 with two doubles, two RBIs and an intentional walk.
“We needed it. We had to have it,” Guertin coach Scott Painter said.
“It’s been a little bit of a struggle. There were a couple of games we were in that we probably could’ve won, but we needed to come in and get one and play well. I thought (innings) one through seven, we played pretty well.”
Working through occasional drizzle on a chilly day, Anderson fanned six consecutive Tomahawks en route to his first career varsity win. He walked three and scattered four hits while allowing one earned run.
“He did a good job mixing his pitches and mixing his location,” Merrimack coach Nick Jaskolka said of Anderson. “I thought he was able to spike his breaking ball when he wanted to and he could elevate. He had a lot of two-strike counts and he just kept our guys off-balance. … I tip my cap to him.”
The control was key, as two of Anderson’s three walks came in the bottom of the sixth before being pulled.
“He’s going to be good. He pounds the zone,” Painter said of Anderson. “We have a bunch of young pitchers here. We try to tell them if they pound the zone, throw strikes, our fielders are going to make plays.”
Although Anderson was solid, he left with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the sixth. Gavin Boyce ended up earning the save after entering with the potential tying run on deck. He induced a deep fly out to center field off the bat of Tyler Rohr to end the threat. Boyce surrendered an unearned run in the seventh, but locked up the Cardinals’ first win.
BG tallied the game’s first run in the top of the third on an RBI double down the line from George, as Tyler Faulkner scored his first of three runs.
Merrimack answered in the bottom half as Justin Grassini singled and later scored on a wild pitch.
Alex Thornton started on the hill for the Tomahawks and was charged with two earned runs over four-plus innings. He ran into trouble in the fifth and was chased following an error sandwiched between two singles to load the bases with no outs. Christian Adler tried to put out the fire, inducing a run-scoring double play from No. 3 hitter Taylor Proulx, but also walked in a run as BG took a 3-1 edge into the sixth.
Merrimack committed four errors on the day.
“I thought we kicked it around a little too much, as far as our defense goes,” Jaskolka said. “We came out a little bit flat and didn’t really get the result we were looking for.”
The Cardinals tacked on three runs in the sixth off left-handed reliever Rohr on the strength of an Aiden Coyne’s two-RBI double that skipped past the diving right fielder. Coyne later came home on a Geroge RBI single. Pinch-hitter Thomas McLendon legged out an infield hit to start the seventh and scored on another infield hit from Faulkner.
Merrimack rounded out the scoring when Grassini smacked a sacrifice fly to right, bringing home Tim Moran, who led off the frame with a single. The Tomahawks’ willingness to fight late was a positive sign for Jaskolka despite the setback.
“In the sixth, seventh inning we stayed in the game,” the Merrimack coach said. “We have a ton of seniors on the team who stay on top of guys, make sure we’re still in it, stay loud and try to get something happening.”
Both teams return to the diamond Monday, as Merrimack hosts Concord at 4 p.m. and BG takes on Nashua South at Holman Stadium at 7 p.m.