WESTWOOD, Mass. -- Dan Light will get the glory for his game-winning sacrifice fly in the top of the 11th inning in St. John’s of Shrewsbury’s 2-1 win over Xaverian (6-2) on a cold, damp Monday night. But the Pioneers (6-1) wouldn’t be celebrating without the left arm of Anthony Perry.
Perry, the Pioneers’ junior hurler, gave up six hits, struck out one and gave up three walks as he battled through nine innings in less than ideal baseball conditions.
The command wasn’t there for Perry when starting taking his warmup tosses. He left several fastballs high and outside of the zone during his pregame warmup, but maybe it was a way to bait the Hawks’ hitters into thinking that he wasn’t going to be an affective pitcher on the dreary day.
Because there he was, some three hours later, ending a bases loaded threat in the bottom of the ninth inning with a painted fastball on the outside corner to keep the Pioneers alive long enough to allow Light to come through in the clutch.
“(Perry) has no fear whatsoever,” said Pioneers head coach Charlie Eppinger. “He gets himself in trouble and he’s going to work out of it. He’s got great poise on the mound and he just doesn’t panic. When he doesn’t have his best stuff he battles.”
Perry walked the first batter of the game, but got the next to ground into a 6-4-3 double play.
In the bottom of the seventh, in a 1-1 game, he watched the leadoff man get on when a ball got under his first baseman’s glove. He was able to get the lead man thanks to a comebacker and also ended the inning by starting a 1-6-3 twin killing to send the game to extra innings.
But his best work came in the bottom of the ninth. Perry looked to be tiring when the first two men reached in the inning. Tim Duggan sacrificed both runners over to set up a second and third situation with nobody out.
Eppinger had Perry intentionally walk Jon Kelly on four straight pitches to set up the force at every base. With a full count, Perry dug in to get Austin DeCarr to fly out to the left fielder in foul ground with no advancement from the runners, and finished off Mike Muir looking to end the threat.
“That was probably one of the biggest things of my career so far,” Perry said of the moment. “I had the pitcher up for their team, 3-2 count. I just needed to throw a strike. My outfielder came up big on that play and from there on I just needed to get that out.”
Eppinger had no thought of taking out his lefty at that point in the game.
“That was his ballgame,” said Eppinger. “I actually went out and told him that on the mound. … That was his ballgame to win or lose.”
Perry didn’t factor in to the decision, but did manage to celebrate when the Pioneers manufactured the game-winning run in the top of the 11th inning. Three-hole hitter Curtis Pomeroy put down a perfect sacrifice to move Keith Kelly on to third base with one out.
Light drove a 2-0 pitch deep to right to easily plate Kelly for the game-winner.
Pitching, Pitching and More Pitching
The conditions were tough for hitters, especially with the use of wood bats, but there might not have been an answer either way for the way both sides were able to throw the ball on a “Spring Day” in New England.
Sophomore Ben White came in to record the final six outs of the ball game for the Pioneers. He struck out two and walked one, but that runner was quickly erased in the bottom of the 10th as he was caught trying to steal second.
The Hawks got a more than stellar performance from Derek Reddy, and on any other day he’s walking off the mound with a win in his back pocket. Reddy fanned six, and retired 11 in a row at one point, in 6.2 innings.
“He gutted it out and pitched well,” said Hawks’ coach Gerry Lambert. “We certainly did not lose because of our pitching today. It wasn’t a function of that. It was a function of us not doing enough when we had the chances offensively.”
The biggest pitching prospect for the Hawks, Austin DeCarr, showcased his electric stuff in 3.1 innings in the latter stages of the ball game.
The sophomore possesses an 88-89 mile per hour fastball, according to the radar gun by scouts at the game, and showed off a mean hook, which completely buckled Pomeroy to end the top of the eighth inning.
In his brief stint, DeCarr struck out seven and only issued two hits.