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Borders strikes out 10 as I-L beats White Mountains, 9-3

by Jeff Lajoie
Sports Reporter

Senior Brian Borders was outstanding on the mound for the Lakers, as he struck out 10 in a complete game victory over White Mountains on April 27. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
April 30, 2012
MEREDITH – Resiliency has been a strong suit for the Inter-Lakes High School baseball team so far in this young season.

Just one day after losing a tough 9-0 game to Belmont High School, the Lakers bounced back in a big way on April 27. Behind the pitching of senior Brian Borders, I-L evened its record at 3-3 entering this week with a 9-3 victory over visiting White Mountains in Division III play at Prescott Park.

"To come back one day later…quite honestly, yesterday was the low point so far," admitted I-L coach Vint Choiniere of the loss to Belmont. "We were down. So coming into this thing, we needed a performance like that from Brian. Plus we swung the bats well, we really did."

Borders went all seven innings on the mound for the Lakers, striking out 10 and not allowing a hit until the fourth inning. Choiniere said it was the best outing of the right-hander's career.

"I just told him out there in front of the team, he just pitched the game of his life," the skipper said. "And it couldn't have come at a more, I'll use the word desperate, time. We were desperate for that kind of performance. We didn't really have anything in the way of relief to go behind him, and he knew that. So I can't say enough about him today."

Borders spotted his fastball well all day long, and he struck out six of the eight batters he faced, including five in a row at one point between the second and third innings.

"He also threw his curveball real well today," said Choiniere of Borders. "We had an umpire that for both sides had a low strike zone and Brian lived there all day. He was right at the knees and had the best control of his career. Let's just hope that can continue because it would make a world of difference for us going forward."

With Borders cruising on the mound, the Lakers offense also did their job in support. Borders singled with one out in the bottom of the first inning and moved up on a Brandon Krueger base hit. First baseman Sean Mahoney drove Borders home with the game's first run one batter later, as he drove a single up the middle to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.

"We are a different team when we score first," explained Choiniere. "You can see it in our offense, we relax more and we don't feel like we're in this big hole and we have to battle back. We just play differently and much better."

I-L added three more runs in the second, as Ryan Hambrook and Dylan Sheehan singled to lead off the frame, with Hambrook eventually coming around to score on a balk. Sheehan made it 3-0 two batters later, when Dillon Mailand dropped down a successful suicide squeeze to drive in the run. Eamon Bean (single) and Borders (walk) also reached base in the inning, and Krueger drove in Bean with an RBI single to give the Lakers the 4-0 advantage.

"We had four called third strikes yesterday (against Belmont), but today we were out attacking early in the count and that made a big difference," Choiniere said.

The lead continued to grow in the fourth inning, with Krueger driving in two more runs on a two-run double that plated Bean and Borders for a 6-0 lead. Mahoney followed with an RBI single to score Krueger, and Travis Manville reached base on an error to put two on. Sheehan came through with the big two-out hit, as his double to the right-center field gap made it 9-0 entering the final few innings.

White Mountains finally got on the scoreboard against Borders in the fifth, as the Spartans had three hits and pushed across three runs to cut into the deficit at 9-3. But the right-hander got out of the jam, and struck out two batters in the sixth to get to the final inning. Despite allowing three straight singles to lead off the seventh, Borders settled down and got three consecutive pop outs to finish off the complete game win.

Krueger was 3-for-4 with three RBI for the Lakers in the win, while Mahoney and Sheehan each added two hits and two RBI. I-L pounded out 13 hits in the big bounce back victory.

"Even something as simple as playing a clean inning in the top of the first makes the world," said Choiniere of his team's ability to get back on track. "It all goes back to inexperience, not quite yet having the confidence to compete with some of the better teams. That's where we're at now but hopefully games like this can get us in that direction."

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