LaRose

Jack LaRose did his part Thursday night with six innings of three-run (two earned) ball. Alas, the Upper Deck Post 14 bats managed just three hits in a 3-0 loss to Shrewsbury at the Northeast Regionals. Upper Deck will return to Fitton Field for a 12:30 p.m. must-win game on Friday against Franklin, Mass.

WORCESTER – It's now win-or-go-home for Upper Deck Post 14 here at the Northeast Regionals.

The locals ran into a dominant pitcher Thursday night as Shrewsbury’s Ryan Walton tossed a complete-game three-hitter in a 3-0 win at Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field. The loss is the first for Post 14 in the double-elimination tournament. They’ll look to make it to the weekend portion of regional play when they face Franklin, Mass. Friday (12:30 p.m. first pitch).

Upper Deck had Walton on the ropes a few times but ultimately couldn’t break through against the righthander, who struck out seven and walked two as part of his 94-pitch outing.

“He’s probably the best guy we’ve seen all year,” said Upper Deck manager Matt Allard.

Jack LaRose started for Upper Deck and gutted his way through 92 pitches over six innings. He was charged with three runs, though only two were earned. He struck out six and walked two. More importantly, LaRose saved Upper Deck from dipping into its bullpen.

“He’s a bulldog,” said LaRose. “The fact that we didn’t have to use anyone else tonight is huge. It keeps our guys in line for the rest of the weekend.”

The turning point in this one occurred early.

Upper Deck had a golden opportunity to break through in the top of the first inning as Walton walked the leadoff batter (Connor Allard) with LaRose following with a hard single to right field. A wild pitch advanced both runners into scoring with no outs with the heart of the lineup due up.

Things still looked promising when Michael Clapprood worked a walk that loaded the bases with two down. The threat was extinguished when Walton got an inning-ended groundball that led to a force out at second base.

Fresh off his complete-game shutout in last Friday’s state title-clinching win, LaRose ran into trouble right away. The first two batters in Shrewsbury’s lineup reached to create a first-and-third situation. LaRose took care of the runner on first by picking him off, but A.J. Hamm made sure the momentum stayed in the Post 397 dugout as the shortstop sent a drive to the left-center gap for a triple that plated the game’s first run.

Shrewsbury added another run in the first courtesy of an RBI single by Zach Amaro. Ultimately, the team that cashed in on the scoring opportunities that presented itself in the first inning rode that wave of momentum for the rest of the game.

“We had our chances early on, but that’s baseball,” said Allard.

Walton retired 10 straight heading into the fifth, which is when Post 14 put forth another charge. With runners on first-and-second and two down, LaRose laced a sharp single to left field that created a now-or-never decision. Ultimately, Luke Plumer was waved in from second base and was thrown out at the plate for the final out of the fifth.

Shrewsbury added an insurance run in the fifth as Hamm singled in a run for his second RBI of the contest. Despite the shutout loss, Allard believes Post 14 is in a good spot heading into the must-win portion of the Northeast Regionals.

“It’s one loss. You can’t lose another one, but our makeup and mentality is to keep grinding,” said Allard. “You want to get to the weekend to give yourself a shot.”

Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03

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