Thursday, July 24, 2014

Rowley - 2, Manchester - 0

By Mac CerulloSports Editor

ROWLEY — Down two runs and locked in a grueling pitcher’s duel with Rowley pitcher Joe White all game, Manchester Essex hurler Peter Clark nearly took advantage of his team’s only genuine scoring opportunity all game when he ripped a fastball deep into left field with men on first and third and two outs.
But unlike on Tuesday, when the Mariners erased a late two-run lead with a massive three-run home run, this time the ball stayed in the yard, and it stayed up just long enough for Rams left fielder Colin Sitarz to reach out and make the highlight reel catch, ending the sixth inning and effectively sealing the 2-0 victory for his team.
“I thought it was trouble,” said Rowley coach Jeff Wood. “Every time you see your outfielder’s number, you get worried, but Colin recovered nice and made the catch.”
The catch saved two runs and preserved Rowley’s slim lead, allowing White to slam the door in the seventh to finish off the complete game shutout. White allowed only three hits and four total base runners all game, and right from the start he was in complete control of the game.
“Everything tonight starts with Joe White,” Wood said. “He’s already pitched a no-hitter and a one-hitter this year, so he’s been dialed in, hitting his spots, keeping people off balance, and the infield defense tonight was outstanding.”
The only Mariner who was able to consistently beat White all game long was centerfielder Mike Cain, who went 2-3 with a pair of base hits. Though Cain’s first hit didn’t lead to anything significant, his second hit nearly proved to be a turning point in the game, especially after second baseman Rory Gentile beat out an infield single later in the inning to give the Mariners men on first and third with two outs, leading to the aforementioned catch by Sitarz in left.
Though Clark may have been unlucky on that play, he was excellent on the mound. Clark pitched six innings and allowed two runs on four hits, matching White for most of the game before his defense failed him in the fourth.
First, Rowley right fielder Tim Cashman led off the inning with a double and then came around to score after designated hitter Marco Luisi beat out an infield single to put the Rams up 1-0. Then, after Zach Rice came in to pinch run for Luisi, first baseman Justin Bolla reached on an error by the shortstop, allowing Rice to come around to make it 2-0.
Gentile said after the game that he felt his team played well, but ultimately just got overmatched by White.
“I thought we fought hard. There’s not much you can do when you hit the ball hard right at people,” Gentile said. “White pitched good, he was all around the plate, that’s what matters. What could we have done more? Get more base runners. Pete pitched great, we made plays every inning except for that one, but we have to hit better.”
With the win, Rowley improves to 17-3 while Manchester Essex will fall to 14-6, and barring an unexpected collapse, the Rams will almost surely finish the season in first place ahead of the Mariners. The two teams will also split their season series with two wins apiece, and with four games remaining in the regular season, Wood said he’s looking forward to the chance to keep busy going into the playoffs.

“We want to play a lot of baseball before the playoffs and we’ll get the opportunity to do that,” Wood said.