Wednesday was Senior Day for the Groton-Dunstable Crusaders baseball team, but it was the Nashoba Chieftains who were celebrating a decisive 12-1 victory at G-DRHS.
Starting pitcher Nick Campana went the distance for the Chieftains, allowing one run on four hits and three walks while striking out ten, including five of the first six batters. He had the Crusaders off balance all day, and even when he uncorked two wild pitches in the bottom of the fourth that allowed Crusader pitcher Andrew Sinney to score his team’s only run, he regained his composure and resumed his dominance.
“I’d say he was more than pretty good,” Crusaders head coach Matt LeBlanc said. “He was all around the strike zone, he worked ahead most of the time. He didn’t mix his pitches a ton, but he didn’t need to. We weren’t seeing the ball as good as we typically do.”
After Sinney breezed through the top of the first, getting the Chieftains in order on just eight pitches, the visitors began their assault. They scored two runs in the first on four singles and two stolen bases. Then three runs on four hits and a steal in the third. While a 5-0 deficit isn’t normally game over, with the way Campana was pitching, there wasn’t much hope for the Crusaders after that.
The Chieftains stole nine bases as a team and had every batter, including two pinch hitters in the top of the seventh, reach base at least once. Designated hitter Nick Bosari, batting from the eighth slot, had a terrific day, going 3-for-4 with three steals and two runs scored. Catcher Matt Sabourin (2-for-4, double, two RBIs, run scored), first baseman Kevin Connelly (2-for-4, RBI, two runs scored), and shortstop John Hannon (2-for-4, three steals, run scored) also had multiple hits. Campana even helped his own cause with an RBI single, a stolen base, and an RBI sacrifice fly.
“They just did a nice job of hitting the ball, because Andrew didn’t really lose control,” LeBlanc said. “He was around the strike zone the whole time … [Nashoba has] hit the ball well all year. Andrew needs to keep them off balance with the curveball.”
Sinney went 1-for-3 with a run scored, and pitched six innings, allowing eight runs on twelve hits and two walks with one strikeout. Alex Marken got the Crusaders’ first hit, a double, with two outs in the fourth. Patrick Keating and Billy Mitchell each got pinch-hit singles in the bottom of the seventh.
The Crusaders stand at 4-9 and must win all five of their remaining games to qualify for the MIAA Division 3 Central baseball tournament. All five games will be on the road in a span of eight days, beginning Thursday at Quabbin. LeBlanc knows his team has to play better than they did today in order to go on a streak.
“I think we need that balanced attack,” LeBlanc said. “We need our pitchers to throw strikes, we need to make plays, we need to hit. We’ll take it one game at a time, because every team we play is capable of beating us, but we’re capable of beating them.”
Wednesday was the final home game for seniors Sinnery, Marken, Jeremy Gaissl, Matt Werner, Dean McCann, and manager Nate Bellerose.