CUMBERLAND - It was perfectly understandable why Cumberland High skipper Paul Murphy seemed so dejected on Friday afternoon.
His ace, senior southpaw Dylan Boisclair, pitched respectably, but didn’t have the usual mustard on his fastball or relish on the curve. The infield made some plays, but also erred once, and the Clippers as a whole allowed Hendricken to run the bases with impunity.
All of that resulted in the Hawks remaining unbeaten with a 6-1 thumping of the Clippers at Tucker Field, in Division I-North play.
Starter Boisclair yielded nine hits, a walk and a wild pitch while fanning six in his four-frame stint, but fellow lefty Mike McCaffrey was better. He scattered seven hits and a single base-on-balls while striking out a quartet, and raised his mark to 4-0 in the process.
“We didn’t do anything right (Friday),” Murphy said after the defeat, one that left Cumberland at 5-7 in league action. “We had some chances to throw out guys stealing and didn’t. We had chances to make plays in the infield but didn’t. It’s just a total team loss.
“Every time we got guys on base, we didn’t hit; it’s been the same old story the past week,” he added. “We had won five of six, then lost to Cranston West, La Salle and now Hendricken. When you face a team like that, you’ve got to do a lot of things well, and we didn’t do one thing right.”
Actually, Nate Mercure pitched well in relief; through the last three innings, he didn’t allow a hit and walked one while striking out one. But it wasn’t enough to prevent Hendricken from improving to 12-0 in I-North.
“McCaffrey throws that way all the time,” offered veteran coach Ed Holloway after the win. “He’s only a sophomore, but he’s got a lot of poise and mound savvy for a young kid. He pitches more like a senior.
“He keeps the ball in play, lets the defense do the work behind him.”
Senior John Toppa led the Hawks offensively, going 2-for-4 with a triple and two RBI, while classmate Rob Henry went 2-for-4 with a double, RBI and two runs. Fellow senior Ed Markowski finished 1-for-3 with two runs, and sophomore Lou Umberto 1-for-3 with an RBI and run.
The visitors snatched a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Henry singled to center, moved to second on Markowski’s infield hit and scored on senior Mike King’s single up the middle.
Sophomore Gian Martellini managed another infield hit to move King to second, but Boisclair struck out Toppa and Jarek Krajewski to halt the rally.
Cumberland responded in kind in the back half, stringing together three consecutive hits. Sophomore leadoff Jake Rockefeller ripped a single down the left-field line, then attempted to reach third on classmate Tyler Calabro’s poke down the right-field line. But right-fielder King fired a strike to third baseman Markowski for the tag.
Boisclair’s line hit to left pushed Calabro to second, but McCaffrey got junior Joe Fine to fly to second and senior Jake Keefe to ground to short to escape the inning.
“That was probably the best throw from the outfield I’ve ever seen; King made a tremendous heave from right,” Murphy said. “That ball was down the line, and he just threw a strike.
“We knew he had a great arm,” he continued, “but if that was a foot off the bag either way, Rockefeller’s safe, and we’ve got runners at the corners with nobody out.”
Remarked Holloway: “That was Dwight Evans-like. What a great throw, but Eddie Markowski also made a great pick on it on the short hop.”
Boisclair struck out the side in the third, but still allowed Hendricken to notch what proved to be the game-clincher. He hit leadoff batter Markowski, who stole second, but then fanned both King and Martellini. Toppa then walloped an opposite-field triple to the right-center gap to plate Markowski.
Bosiclair (3-for-4) helped himself in the back half, crushing a one-out double to the left-center gap. When Joe Fine roped a grounder to McCaffrey, he threw to Markowski, who promptly applied the tag.
The Hawks broke it open in the fourth while sending 10 men to the plate. With one down, Boisclair walked Matt Murphy, who robbed second, and Umberto stroked a seeing-eye single to left, one that hit the lip of the infield grass and flew over shortstop Tyler Calabro’s head. That scored Murphy, and Umberto stole the next bag before hustling home on Henry’s opposite-field double to right.
That made it 4-0.
Markowski reached on an infield miscue, then took second when left fielder Rockefeller also bobbled the ball, allowing Henry to score. After Boisclair issued a two-out walk to Martellini and yielded Toppa a single, both moving into scoring position on a wild pitch, he hit Jarek Krajewski to juice the bags.
Senior backstop Nick Boland struck out, but the damage had been done.
His rival catcher, senior tri-captain Matt Bare, opened the bottom of the fourth with a ground single between short and third, then sprinted to third on McCaffrey’s wild toss. With two down and sophomore Nick Provost at the plate, Bare got caught halfway down the line; in an attempt to pick him off, Boland threw low to Markowski, and Bare scored with relative ease.
While Mercure produced outs, Cumberland had a chance to cut into the deficit with two outs in the fifth; Boisclair reached on an infield single, then raced to second on shortstop Umperto’s high throw to first. Fine took first on a Baltimore-chop hit, sending Boisclair to third, but Keefe whiffed to end that threat.
“John (Toppa) came up big for us in the third,” Holloway explained. “We wanted him to give our pitcher some breathing room, and that triple was huge. He was a key offensive guy for us.”
Murphy still believed his offense could have provided more spark in the loss.
“Dylan was OK; he kept guys off-balance at times, but he also had some bad luck,” he indicated. “That bad-hop single was one of them. His location was decent, but sometimes you’re just off. We’re now on a three-game losing streak, and it’s all because of the same thing. We’re getting guys on, but we can’t produce the hits to bring them in.”
Hendricken 101 400 0 -- 6 – 9 – 2
Cumberland 000 100 0 -- 1 – 7 – 2
Mike McCaffrey and Nick Boland. Dylan Boisclair, Nate Mercure (5) and Matt Bare. 2B – Rob Henry, Boisclair. 3B – John Toppa.