AMHERST, Mass. -- There are certain aspects within the game of baseball that coaches fear and loath. Among them is giving opposing teams extra outs in an inning.
After begrudgingly watching his infield boot and toss the ball all over the place in yesterday’s Valley League contest against Springfield Cathedral, Amherst head coach Greg Vouros can now relate.
The Hurricanes committed seven errors in all, but the four made in the third inning proved to be a backbreaker. The ever-so-gracious Panthers took full advantage of Amherst's defensive issues during the frame by scoring three times en route to a 3-0 victory at Stan P. Ziomek Diamond.
“I think we’re a little rusty and we’re starting to put some pressure on ourselves,” said Vouros, whose club fell to 7-4. “It was a tough day for our defense which has been a strength for us and it kind of fell apart today, particularly in that third inning.”
While the defense will take much of the heat over this defeat, fingers can also be pointed to the Hurricane offense which was non-existent against Cathedral ace Harrison Paige. The senior put up another brilliant complete game performance, allowing just one hit, walking two and striking out eight. The righthander is now 4-0 and has allowed just one run in 28 innings pitched this season.
“It was another ho-hum performance by him,” quipped Panthers coach Pat Moriarty. “He takes the hill and we are very confident when he does. Harrison throws strikes and keeps our defense in the game."
Amherst junior righty Asher Young also put forth a solid outing in spite having little support behind him. Young went the distance, giving up five hits and no earned runs.
“Asher pitched great and mixed it up well,” Vouros said. “He’s a competitor. He battled throughout and gave us a shot to win. He was accurate, threw strikes and got ahead in the count all game.”
Cathedral, now 10-1 and qualified for the MIAA Division 1 Western Mass. tournament, had an opportunity to grab the lead in the second inning but Young was able to get out of a bases-loaded jam unharmed. The next frame, however, was a different story.
After Young retired the first batter he faced, Tim Danehy and Frank Crinella each reached base on back-to-back errors by shortstop Justin Carey. Mike Krupczak followed with another bouncer to Carey but this time the junior fielded the ball, however his throw to force Crinella at second was a tad late.With still time to get Krupczak at first, Hurricane second baseman Jack Berg-Schrader bounced a throw which skipped past first baseman Mike Walkowicz.
Meanwhile, Danehy -- who had never stopped running -- was sprinting toward the plate. Walkowicz recovered the ball quickly, but his throw home sailed past catcher Jose Cabrera giving Cathedral a 1-0 lead.
The inning continued for the Panthers. With runners on second and third and the infield playing in, sophomore Andrew Noonan chopped a single to center field scoring Crinella and Krupczak giving them a three-run cushion.
"We know we have to get runners moving and get them into scoring position and find ways to get them in," Moriarty said. "We were fortunate enough today, especially with Andrew's big single with two out to do that by putting guys in motion."
As it turned out, that was all Paige and Co. needed. As tough as Young proved to be on the hill, Paige was tougher. The AIC commit threw 104 pitches, displaying a lot of movement and keeping the Hurricanes off-stride throughout.
“He’s been really hitting his spots and that’s what he and I try to focus on the most,” said Noonan, the Panthers’ catcher. “Even when he doesn’t have his best stuff which I felt was the case today, he still got us the win. His curveball was really on today. He didn’t throw a lot of off-speed today but when he did he executed them well, expecially when the count was 0-2 and 1-2.”