PROSPECT'S Ryker Burke takes a throw as Nick Lynch of Newfound slides safely into second base in playoff action last week.
Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
June 05, 2017BRISTOL — Of the two pitchers in the opening round tournament game between Prospect Mountain and Newfound, only Newfound's Mike Doan gave up an earned run. Prospect's Caleb Piwnicki continued his strong run without an earned run surrendered.
However, a mistake in the field cost the Timber Wolves in a big way and the Bears were able to escape with a 2-1 win to advance in the Division III tournament.
"We were so close," said Prospect coach Bubba Noyes, who's team rallied in the seventh for their lone run and had the go-ahead run at the plate. "But you can't wait until the last inning to hit the ball out of the infield."
"These guys love to grind it out," said Newfound coach John Larsen. "They pulled it out, that team (Prospect) beat us 21-0 in our opener last year."
Doan got the first two outs of the top of the first before Sam Borelli beat out an infield hit for the Timber Wolves. Borelli stole second but was stranded there when Doan got another strikeout to end the inning.
Piwnicki got a little defensive help in the bottom of the inning when Borelli made a leaping grab of a high throw. He also had a strikeout in the frame.
Piwnicki led off the second inning with a base hit but Devon Kraemer-Roberts started a 5-4-3 double play and a grounder closed out the inning.
Kraemer-Roberts led off the bottom of the second inning with a base hit, but Prospect catcher Drew Nickerson gunned him down trying to steal second to help get out of the inning.
Ryker Burke had a base hit with two outs in the top of the third inning but Doan induced a pop fly to Matt MIckewicz at first base to end the inning.
Newfound was able to get on the board in the bottom of the third inning. Logan Rouille led off with a base hit but he was forced at second on Nick Lynch's attempted sacrifice bunt, as Piwnicki gunned to second after fielding the ball. Piwnicki then got a strikeout but Jarrod Fairbank followed with an infield hit and stole second. Nate Desrochers hit a ground ball that appeared destined to end the inning, but the throw sailed high at first base and both Lynch and Fairbank were able to score and Newfound went up 2-0.
Prospect attempted to answer in the top of the fourth. Borelli led off with an infield hit and took second on a passed ball. Hunter Sanborn worked a walk but Doan got a fly ball to left and a strikeout for the first two outs. A double steal put both runners in scoring position but Doan got a strikeout to end the inning.
Doan worked a walk with two outs in the bottom of the fourth and Rouille was hit by a pitch. They both stole to move up but Piwnicki got a strikeout to end the inning.
Ryan Dube reached on an error to start the top of the fifth inning but was forced at second on a grounder to third by Luke Mostoller. Burke worked a walk to put two runners on. A fly ball to right field resulted in the second out and Mostoller tagged up in an attempt to get to third. However, Tuan Nguyen threw to Rouille, who fired to Kraemer-Roberts at third to cut down the lead runner to end the inning.
Piwnicki struck out two in the bottom of the fifth and got some good help from Sanborn who made a nice sliding catch in center. Prospect threatened again in the top of the sixth. Borelli had a leadoff base hit and took second on a groundout by Sanborn. Piwnicki reached on an error but yet another double play, started by Kraemer-Roberts at third and finished with a nice scoop by Mickewicz at first, got the Bears out of trouble.
Rickey DeLuca reached on a dropped third strike and Kraemer-Roberts beat out an infield hit to put two runners on. After a strikeout, a pickoff error put a runner at third. The Bears attempted a double steal but Piwnicki threw to Nickerson to cut down the runner at the plate to help quelch the rally.
Richard Stevens led off with a base hit in the top of the seventh inning and Dube followed with a base hit, moving Stevens to third. However, Nguyen threw to Desrochers, who fired to Rouille at second to cut down Dube. Mostoller lifted a long fly ball to left, with Lynch making a great catch just in front of the fence. Stevens tagged up and scored for Prospect's first run. Burke followed with a base hit but a grounder to second ended the game and Newfound moved on to the quarterfinals.
Noyes noted that both pitchers threw strikes throughout the day.
"Caleb threw strikes," Noyes said. "And (Doan) threw awesome, he keeps you off balance a lot."
With just two seniors, Noyes is excited to see what the future holds for the Timber Wolves.
"Obviously, with just Hunter and Sam gone, we have a good nucleus coming back next year," Noyes said. "We had a good year."
Larsen also praised both pitchers for their strong work.
"He's (Piwnicki) consistent around the plate and has a good breaking ball," Larsen said. "And Mike's the go-to kid. This was a big game for Mike and the team.
"We should've hit more," Larsen added. "They'll probably come to practice tomorrow and want to hit, hit, hit."
He also noted his team was excited to see what his team would put up against top-ranked Campbell in the quarterfinals.
The Bears eventually fell 10-5 to Campbell in the quarterfinals on Saturday in Litchfield.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 569-3126 or firstname.lastname@example.org.