(Groveland) The two runs that Manchester-Essex put up in the first inning didn’t seem like too much at the time.
But then the pitching of Hornets starter Vaughn O’Leary kicked in and those runs grew in size as the innings rolled by.
Manchester-Essex defeated Pentucket, 4-0, on Thursday afternoon at Groveland Pines.
Vaughn finished with a two-hitter and collected eleven strikeouts.
“The umpire was giving me the outside corner and I was able to command all my pitches,” said Vaughn afterwards. “I know I’m on when I can start with off-speed pitches against 3-4-5 hitters.”
“I give their pitcher a lot of credit,” said Pentucket coach Kevin Murray. “He didn’t throw many balls. He came right at our hitters and attacked us all game. He lived on the outside and we didn’t do a great job of adjusting to that.”
A walk (Colin Coyne), and a double (Ryan Andrews) were followed by a wild pitch and a fielder’s choice. The result was a two-run first inning for the visitors.
“Obviously, getting two runs in the first helped us a lot,” said Hornets coach James Weed post-game. “It puts pressure on the other team.”
Coach Murray brought on Ethan Hunt to pitch in the second inning. The UMass Boston commit struck out twelve Hornets over the next six inning of relief.
“Ethan pitched very well,” said Coach Murray. “Even during the inning with the runs, the hits weren’t hit that hard.”
Pentucket’s best chance to get back in the game was in the third inning. An infield error and a Max Ligols’ single put two runners on with no outs. Vaughn then struck out the next three batters to end the threat and the inning.
Manchester-Essex (6-3) added two more runs in the sixth inning. The Hornets had two hits early in the inning (Ryan Andrews, Henry Otterbein) and two hits later on (Mike D’Oreo, Zak Porat) to drive in the runs.
Pentucket (5-5) got two runners on with two outs in their half of the sixth inning, but Vaughn ended the threat by getting Chase Dwight to fly out deep to center.
Vaughn O’Leary: “I couldn’t have done it without my defense. We could have lost this game if they hadn’t made plays.”
Coach Weed: “This team reminds me of the 2019 state champion team. They’re not as talented but they’re proving a lot of doubters wrong. They’re hitting as well as the 2019 team. They’re fun to coach. They play with energy.”
Kyle Ventola and Max Ligols had Pentucket’s two hits.
Ryan Andrews and Mike D’Oreo each had two hits for Manchester-Essex.-
The weather was perfect. Not too hot. Not too cold with sunshine.
Manchester-Essex 2 0 0 0 0 2 0 = 4
Pentucket 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 = 0
(The pictures will enlarge.)