LINCOLN -- It looks like the five scrimmages Mount St. Charles head coach Tom Seaver scheduled during the pre-season has paid dividends.
Then again, one in particular, he stated, was directly responsible for the Mountiesâ€™ ability to post a 4-3 Division I-North victory over Lincoln High in both teamsâ€™ season opener at Chet Nichols Memorial Field on Monday afternoon.
â€śWe played those scrimmages for a very good reason; from the very first day, we drilled them on everything we could think of, all of the situational stuff,â€ť he stated. â€śThe big scrimmage was last Wednesday against Milford, one of the best teams in the state of Massachusetts, and we used it to get ready for this one (Monday).
â€śWe lost, 6-0, to the Scarlet Hawks, but we nevertheless learned how to win because we faced such a good team,â€ť he added. â€śWe faced their top lefthander, and he helped us get ready for Joe Yankee (the Lionsâ€™ starting pitcher).â€ť
While Yankee (0-1) had some trouble in the middle frames, MSC senior righty Taylor Sutherland provided his squad with a superb outing. He hurled a complete-game five-hitter, issuing only a walk while fanning a whopping 11. He may hit two batters and thrown a wild pitch, but he continually kept Lincoln off-balance with his curve and changeup.
â€śTaylor was the man,â€ť Seaver noted. â€śHe pitched a fantastic game.â€ť
Stated pitching coach Paul Jacques, who called Sutherlandâ€™s tosses from the dugout: â€śTaylor and I were in pretty good sync throughout. He threw his curve and changeup to compensate for his fastball, and he also was able to hit his spots, which helped tremendously.â€ť
With the triumph, the Mounties moved to 1-0 overall and in league action.
Yankee, a senior southpaw, lasted six innings and yielded five hits, all four runs (two earned) and four walks and also hit three batters, but struck out seven. Junior righty Nick Zammarelli threw a flawless seventh.
After gaining the first two outs in the first without a problem, Yankee walked both Brian Campbell and Tyler Geffert, but then forced Ryan Simoneau to foul out to right.
Yankee wasnâ€™t as fortunate in the top of the third. He plunked leadoff hitter Casey Ryan, and Sutherland used a sacrifice bunt to get him to second. Ryan then tagged on Dan Glodâ€™s fly to center before scoring on Campbellâ€™s infield single.
Sutherland, meanwhile, coasted through the first frames before getting himself into a jam in the third. He opened by hitting both freshman Jake Petrin and sophomore Sam Brito, but then whiffed No. 9 batter Jeff Sheehan. Zammarelli took an intentional walk to load the bags, and senior Kyle Jacksonâ€™s base hit to center plated Petrin and Brito to take the 2-1 lead.
It was short-lived, as MSC assembled a three-run rally in the fourth. Yankee managed to fan Simoneau for the first out, but Nolan Hayward reached first on an infield error. On a pickoff attempt, the lefty threw low to first baseman Tyler Duquette, allowing Hayward to scamper to third. Kevin Valentine plated him on a single to left, and Yankee walked Riley Young to face No. 9 batter Casey Ryan.
Ryan drilled a double down the left-field line to score Valentine, and third baseman Cronin botched the relay throw, and Young scored easily for the 4-2 cushion.
The Lions sliced the deficit to 4-3 in the sixth when Yankee reached on a one-out, infield error, then scored when junior Steve McManus ripped a triple to right. Sutherland, however, fanned Duquette and got Cronin to ground to short to end the threat.
It looked as though Lincoln may have, at the very least, tied it in the bottom of the seventh. With two down, Sheehan roped a single to right, and Zammarelli followed with a long hit that rolled to the right-field fence. He actually was walking into third â€“ after Sheehan had scored what seemed to be the game-tying run, when the Lions discovered the home-plate umpire had called it foul.
Sutherland struck him out two pitches later.
â€śWe didnâ€™t know (the ump) had called it foul,â€ť stated first-year Lincoln skipper Andy Hallam. â€śWe thought we had tied it up, and maybe even won it â€¦ You have to give (Sutherland) credit. He mixed up his pitches well. I mean, heâ€™d be down 2-0 (in the count), and then throw the curve. He kept us off-balance.â€ť
Explained Seaver: â€śWe heard the ump call it right away, but the runners kept going.â€ť
Sutherland claimed he didnâ€™t know he had struck out 11 until someone told him afterward.
â€śI pitched a lot better than I did during the off-season,â€ť he offered. â€śI pitched a couple of weeks ago and didnâ€™t feel real good, so I was nervous coming into this game. I just have to thank our offense; it got us enough to win.â€ť