NATICK, Mass. — Tyler Buck called it a hitting pact between he and Brendan Skidmore. Whatever they want to call it, so far that promise to pick each other up as the three and four hitters for Franklin has worked pretty well so far.
The latest example came on Friday night.
Skidmore belted a clutch home run in the bottom of the seventh to extend the game and Buck put the finishing touches on a 4-3 victory over Lincoln-Sudbury (16-4) in the ninth inning with a walkoff double — which scored Skidmore — to take the first game of the Rich Pedroli Memorial Daily News Classic at John Carroll Complex at Mahan Field.
The two bring the power to the beginning of four straight Hockomock League All-Stars for the Panthers, a list that includes Bobby Chaiton and Reed Turgeon, and that oomph in the middle of the lineup was provided yet again.
“I love hitting behind (Skidmore) and I know he’s going to get on base most of the time,” said Buck, who went 1-for-5 with an RBI. “We have that thing where if he gets a hit then I have more confidence up at the plate. It’s just one of those things where we made a hit-pact together, so if he gets a hit then I got to get a hit too.”
The two connected on back-to-back shots in its pounding of Catholic Memorial earlier in the year and the combination combined for the only two extra-base hits on this afternoon.
“(We) have been feeding off of each other’s success,” said Skidmore. “When one is doing good then the other is doing good and he’s always picking me up in the four spot. It’s a great combination for us.”
In the bottom of the ninth, Skidmore reached with a single to left to put the go-ahead run on the board. Buck, who recorded four outs in hit previous four at-bats, jumped all over a 2-1 offering and sent what looked like a routine fly ball to left. The ball kept carrying and carrying and it glanced off the glove of the left fielder. Skidmore motored all the way around from first without a throw to score the game-winning run.
“I thought that was just a routine fly ball, but it just kept carrying and carrying,” said Panthers’ head coach Dave Niro. “It got over his head and we scored, thank God. We were running out of pitchers.
Skidmore was off on contact and didn’t hesitate as he rounded third.
“I just put my head down and go, especially with two outs going on contact,” said Skidmore. “That was huge.”
Skidmore Clutch: The Warriors held a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the seventh and were two outs away from putting the finishing touches on a win. Skidmore, as he has done in several instances in his career, came away with one swing to continue things on a perfect night for baseball.
Skidmore worked the count to 3-2, and he smashed an offering over the left-center field wall to tie things at 3.
“I was getting a lot of offspeed pitches today,” said Skidmore. “I worked the count to a full count and I was thinking fastball but ready for a curveball because they were dropping them on me all day. But he threw me a fastball and it just seemed to carry on that one.”
Skidmore was recently named the Hockomock League MVP and his coach has enjoyed the fruits of the recent clutch ness from his power-hitting shortstop.
“What can I say about Skidmore? He did it last year. He did it against CM. He did it again today,” said Niro. “That’s why he is the MVP of the Hockomock League.”
Up and Down Day in the Field: The Warriors have made a living off of other team’s miscues in the field, at the plate and on the base paths. This game saw those mistakes fall on the feet of Kirk Fredericks group.
The Warriors made two errors that led to a run in the first inning for the Panthers. They ran into an out at third base, and Buck picked off David McCullough on first base. The left-fielder was able to get the glove on a tough play going away from him on the game-winner, but usually those are things that defending Div. 1 champions gobble up without a blink.
“They play hard. They work at it, it’s just today we gulped a little bit,” Fredericks said of his team. “Hopefully we can take it as a learning experience and help us for the next time.”
Although the miscues might be the underlying story of the loss for the Warriors, there were a few highlight plays, most notably the one by Jack Harris in right. With the bases loaded and nobody out in the fourth, Bryan Abbott hit a shot down the right field line and Harris was playing him not to pull. The speedy right-fielder hustled after the ball, went into a dive and scooped the ball just before it hit the ground to hold the Panthers to a sacrifice fly on the play.
If the ball got by Harris, the Warriors were looking at a 2-1 game turning into a much larger deficit.