GLOUCESTER— Facing a pitcher that threw a perfect-game earlier in the year, Gloucester knew they had their hands full when they saw Lynn English pitcher Ben Bowden take the mound.
Gloucester, however, countered with an ace of its own in Jason Vizena and the result was a heavy-weight pitcher's duel. The two pitchers have very different styles, but Bowden was just a tad bit better in the Bulldogs 2-1 victory at Nate Ross Field Field.
Both pitchers are tall and left-handed, but that is about all they share in common. Bowden is a power-pitcher who attacks hitters with his hard fastball and devastating change-up. Vizena, on the other hand, is more crafty, as he locates his fastball exceptionally well and has a sharp curveball that he can throw for a strike in any count. Despite the differences, runs were at a hard to come by for both squads.
The first time through the order the Fishermen were overmatched. Bowden struck-out everybody he faced, accumulating nine strikeouts in his first three-innings of work. With a radar gun present, Bowden featured a fastball that was touching 84-85 mph consistently.
An RBI ground out by Kyle O'Connor in the top of the third gave Bowden with a 1-0 lead, however, Gloucester appeared like they were going to turn the corner the second time through the lineup.
The fourth inning was the only time Bowden failed to strikeout a Fisherman. With two outs and nobody on, the only blemish the big lefty made was when first baseman Mike Muniz stepped into the box. Sitting on a 1-1 count, Bowden tried throwing a fastball past Muniz. But Gloucester's junior first baseman was more than ready for the pitch, as he drove a scorching line drive over the double-fence in right-center for a game-tying home run. Gloucester coach Joe Orlando thought Muniz's home run was going to be the spark that got the offense going.
"Mike hit the big home run in the fourth" he said. "I was kind of hoping that would carry us, but we never woke up after that."
Muniz's home run proved to be the only hit the Fishermen could muster in the contest, as Bowden bared-down the final three-innings.
Lynn English took the momentum back the following inning and gave Bowden a lead he wouldn't relinquish. Vizena retired the first two batters in the fifth, but issued what appeared to be a harmless walk. Freshman Matt Merritt hit a flyball to center field for the Bulldogs, but the center fielder lost the ball in the lights and allowed the ball to drop for an RBI-double. Even though the hit proved to be the game winner, Orlando was realistic of how the lights can play a factor during a night game.
"Our center fielder lost the ball in the lights" he said. "It was a big thing, but that's part of playing at this field."
The RBI-double was more than enough for Bowden, who struck-out seven of the last nine Fishermen he faced to wrap-up the 2-1, one-hit victory. Vizena was a tough-luck loser in every sense of the word. He pitched excellent in the game, striking out seven Bulldogs while scattering eight hits. For the potent offense that Gloucester spots, Orlando was quick to credit the effort of Bowden in shutting them down.
"Bowden pitched fabulous" he said. "We hadn't seen that type of fastball all year long, but we're going to be fine and we're going to bounce back Wednesday against Winthrop."