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Cats baseball claims six straight

Plymouth’s Kyle Underwood keeps an eye on the runner at third during the Bobcats’ 10-3 win last Monday. Matt Perloff. (click for larger version)
May 15, 2009
PLYMOUTH — The Plymouth Regional High School baseball team has been on fire since resuming action after April vacation, claiming six straight wins as they climb up the Class I field heading into the second half of the season.

The Bobcats (8-2), ending each of their first two weeks at .500, looked to put themselves back over that mark as they hosted Kingswood on their first game back from April break. The Knights ran into defensive problems in the second, loading the bases on a walk, error and catcher's interference before Kyle Underwood walked, forcing in Mike Bownes to make it 1-0. An inning later, Trevor Bladecki delivered a single to left field, but the ball would get by the fielder and go all the way to the fence, allowing Rich Manzi to score and make it 2-0. Wes Cushing kept the action going with a single to left to score Bladecki, then déjà vu struck as Plymouth again loaded the bases after an error and catcher's interference, with Underwood walking to force home another run and make it 4-0.

Kingswood answered with a run in the top of the fifth, but Plymouth answered in force with six runs in the bottom of the inning, helped by three Kingswood errors and another bases loaded walk, this time issued to Barney. The Bobcats' bats did plenty of damage on their own as well, as Kevin Reisert connected for an RBI single and Cushing drove in two with a base hit to right. The Knights added one more run before the end of the game, but the damage had been done as Plymouth earned a 10-2 win.

Underwood escaped with just two earned runs allowed despite six hits and seven walks, though he'd strike out eight while earning the complete game victory to improve to 2-0. Bladecki and Cushing both finished the day 2-4 to lead the offense.

Plymouth wrapped up the week at Bishop Brady. Both teams got off to a strong start defensively, but the Bobcats broke through in the top of the third when Underwood reached base on a walk, advanced on a hit-and-run and then scored on Manzi's two-out single to center, putting them ahead 1-0.

That scenario would become familiar as the game progressed, as Underwood drew another walk in the fifth. He'd move into scoring position on a stolen base, setting the stage for Manzi, who again singled him home, this time making it 2-0. They'd do it again in the seventh, with Underwood reaching base on a walk, moving to second on a passed ball and covering the rest of the diamond on a Manzi single to make it 3-0.

The Bobcats added some variety before wrapping up their afternoon at the plate. Bladecki joined Manzi on the basepaths with a walk, with Cushing singling to right to bring home Manzi for a 4-0 game. Bownes then dropped down a squeeze bunt to bring home pinch runner Charlie Donahue, and Matt Varin capped the rally with a bomb to center, his two-run shot wrapping up a 7-0 win.

Casey Barney threw three-hit ball over six innings to pick up the win, striking out two and walking just one. Kyle McAuliffe came in to throw a scoreless seventh, striking out one and allowing no baserunners.

Manzi finished the afternoon a perfect 4-4 with three RBI at the plate, while Cushing went 3-4 and Barney went 2-3 to lead the Bobcat offense.

Plymouth's bats struck again the following Monday, this time welcoming Bow to town. The Falcons set the tone by beaning Underwood to lead off the bottom of the first, with Manzi bringing him home on a double to right to make it 1-0. Plymouth doubled their lead an inning later, putting Hay and Underwood on before Reisert singled home Hay to make it 2-0.

Bow made things interesting midway through the game. They'd cut the lead in half after bringing home a run on a wild pitch in the third, then pulled ahead in the fourth when a throwing error brought home two runs, making it 3-2. The Falcons' advantage would be short-lived however, as Plymouth answered with seven runs in the bottom of the frame. Reisert, Manzi and Cushing all had RBI singles, while Bladecki drove in a run on a walk, but it was Varin delivering the crushing blow, a bases-clearing double that brought home three runs to help put Plymouth up 9-3. The Bobcats added one more when Hay singled and went to third on an Underwood bunt, setting up Reisert to bring him home on a sacrifice fly to produce the final score of 10-3.

Underwood pitched a complete game, surrendering four hits and three walks while striking out eight. None of the three runs allowed were earned. At the plate, Reisert, Manzi and Varin all collected two hits while combining for seven of the 10 RBI in the game.

Things got interesting mid-week, as Plymouth traveled to Kearsarge. The Bobcats struck first when Varin doubled and came around on a errant throw off a Bownes grounder, but the Corsairs loaded the bases with two outs in the third, bringing home runs on a single, beanball and walk to take a 3-1 lead.

Plymouth would go silent until the fifth, but couldn't be kept quiet after that. Bownes and Barney led off the action with back-to-back doubles to bring home one run, while a drag bunt single by Hay and a walk to Underwood loaded the bases for Reisert, who delivered a sacrifice fly to center to tie the game. Manzi hit an infield single to reload the bases, setting the stage for a two-run single up the middle by Cushing to put Plymouth ahead 5-3.

Plymouth one-upped their performance with five more runs in the sixth. Bownes and Hay each slapped singles to right center, then Underwood hit a ball to short, the resulting error bringing home both runners to make it 7-3. Bladecki singled home Underwood on a hit and run, while Cushing and Varin each delivered RBI singles to left to cap the rally with the Bobcats up 10-3.

Kearsarge battled back with a brutal frame in the sixth. The Corsairs drove in three runs on a bases-clearing double and two more on a home run, but down 10-9, they'd have to settle for a comeback that would fall just short, as Plymouth escaped with the win.

Barney pitched a complete game despite running into trouble in the sixth, bouncing back to shut Kearsarge down in the seventh. Hay led the way with three hits, while Varin and Bownes each had two. Underwood and Manzi would each reach base three times.

Plymouth wrapped up the week with another battle, this time at home against Pembroke. The Spartans struck first with an RBI double in the top of the first, but the Bobcats got it right back in the bottom of the inning, as Underwood drew a leadoff walk, stole second and came around on a single to left-center by Manzi. It would stay tied until the fourth, when Manzi and Bladecki delivered singles to put runners at the corners. Plymouth went ahead 2-1 as Cushing tagged a sacrifice fly to center, then brought home another run on a Bownes single before Barney added a fourth on a double to left to make it 4-1.

Pembroke got one back in the fifth, but Plymouth would look to seal the deal in the sixth. The Bobcats put one on with a walk, but Varin wouldn't be stopping at any bases on his at-bat, tagging a pitch over the fence in left-centefield for a two-run homer and a 6-2 lead, which they'd hold to finish the game.

Underwood scattered five hits and walked two in a complete game effort, striking out seven.

Plymouth looked to keep their streak going Monday against Hanover and Wednesday against Kennett. They face Kennett again on the road Friday and host Hanover Monday at 4:15 p.m., then will look to avenge a season-opening loss to Lebanon when they hit the road again next Wednesday.

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