LYNNFIELD, Mass. — Chris Dehuelle knew it would take a solid effort from his right-arm to help Lynnfield earn a share of the Cape Ann League title for the first time in six years.
The senior produced, and then some, for the Pioneers.
Dehuelle struck out seven and only scattered five hits in a complete-game shutout as Lynnfield (15-3) defeated perennial power North Reading, 4-0, this afternoon at home.
“It means a lot,” Dehuelle said of getting the clinching victory for the Pioneers. “It’s what we work for. It was our first goal and next we are on to the state tournament. They are a great team and I knew I was going to have to pitch great to beat them.”
The Hornets (14-4) are a team that likes to consistently get the bat on the ball and be annoying outs for opposing pitchers. According to head coach Frank Carey, the Hornets haven’t been whiffed four or more times in a game at any point during the season.
Dehuelle wracked up three in the first inning.
He needed 22 pitches to strike out the side in the first, but he showed off his true strength by keeping his strong defense sharp and in the game as he needed 12 or fewer pitches in four of his final six innings.
“Once he’s going he gets a lot of ground ball outs and that’s what we are looking for because we have a nice littler infield,” said Pioneers head coach John O’Brien.
Quick with the glove, too: When runners did manage to get on, Dehuelle was able to erase them quickly.
In the third inning he displayed a bit of self defense to start an inning-ending double play. Tom Day lined a 1-0 pitch right back up the middle in the direction of Dehuelle’s head, but he has able to move to his left and stick out his glove to record the out.
He then fired over to first to double off Jon Gravalese to end the inning.
“It wasn’t going to hit me,” he said. “But I just kind of got out of the way and stuck my glove out.”
Dehuelle started another double play in the fifth inning with runners on first and second in a 2-0 game. Dennis Rollfs rolled one back to Dehuelle and the righty spun to start a 1-6-3 twin killing to escape the only time that the Hornets were able to put on two runners in an inning.
Fundamental Baseball: Craig Anderson delivered a solo home run for the Pioneers, but O’Brien’s club has made a living with some small ball this season.
The Pioneers put down three successful sacrifice bunts and two of the sacrifices led to runs.
“We bunt everyday,” said O’Brien. “I don’t know if a lot of other teams do, but we bunt everyday at practice. With the new bats it’s really come full-circle into our favor. We are a more old school team. … Our kids do they do the job, whatever it is. One through nine if it’s your turn to bunt then you get the bunt down and we move on.”