Monday, July 12, 2010

Hamilton's Intertown Twilight team appears playoff bound

Hamilton's Intertown Twilight team appears playoff bound
By Dom Nicastro / Correspondent
GateHouse News Service

Hamilton missed last year’s Intertown Twilight Baseball League playoffs by the slimmest of margins. This summer, the Generals are making sure they stay near the top and avoid any drama near the bottom of the league. They helped their cause by sweeping the defending champions, Manchester Essex Mariners, the most recent victory an 11-5 decision thanks to four home runs.

That gave Hamilton its seventh win and put them in second place behind Manchester Essex, which only had three losses after the sweep by Hamilton. Jeff Jensen pitched Hamilton to the victory with a complete-game effort. He allowed seven hits, five runs, one walk and had two strikeouts. Hamilton actually trailed 5-0 before scoring 11 unanswered runs.

The Generals started its comeback when Mark Provost smacked a two-run double, and Jim Maloney followed with an RBI single cutting the Mariner lead to 5-3. The Generals took the lead in the following inning scoring five. Mark Ruggiero led off the bottom of the fourth with a solo shot to left. Provost delivered again with a three-run home run. Maloney completed the inning going back-to-back with a deep home run to center.

Jered Stewart was the next Hamilton batter to go deep, connecting for a two-run home run, and Ruggiero delivered another RBI single to close out the scoring. Jensen got the final three batters in the seventh to secure the win with the help of nifty double play to end the game.

Mike Drinkwater was the star of the day in the previous victory over the defending champs, 6-4. He went the distance while allowing four runs, eight hits, and recording seven strikeouts. The Generals got on the board first in the top of first after completing a successful double steal. Jim Love recorded an RBI fielder’s choice; Stewart then delivered a two-out RBI single to keep the inning alive, and Bryan Vitale smacked a three-run homer to break open the game for the Generals. In the seventh the Mariners got runners on second and third to make things interesting, but Drinkwater was able to shut the door and record a strikeout to end the game and earn the complete game victory.

Earlier, Judd Funchion pitched Hamilton to a 5-1 win over Topsfield. Funchion pitched a complete game allowing only one run and scattering eight hits. The only blemish was a solo homer in the fourth inning. The Generals put up five runs but really put the pressure on the home team most of the night as they seemed to threatening a big rally in most innings. Vitale (2-for-4, homer, four RBI), Love (two hits, RBI) and Ruggiero (3-for-4, two doubles) led Hamilton's offense.