By Nick Curcuru
---- — GLOUCESTER— When locked in the middle of a pitchers duel on the baseball diamond, the outcome is almost always decided by timely hitting. Such was the case on Friday when Gloucester squared off against Lynn English in a Northeastern Conference crossover game.
Gloucester pitcher Sean Gillon and Lynn English pitchers Dana Stevens and Ben Bowden all had good stuff which led to strong performances from all three. But unfortunately for the Fishermen, it was the Bulldogs who came away with the timely hits en route to a 3-1 win at Nate Ross Field.
Stevens, who earned the win, and Bowden stymied a normally strong but currently slumping Gloucester offense scattering five hits in the contest. The Lynn English hurlers were at their best with runners on base as Gloucester (10-7) was 0-11 on the afternoon with men on base.
Stevens, a soft throwing south paw, started the game and kept Gloucester off balance with his off-speed stuff and in the fifth Lynn English turned to Bowden, a flame throwing lefty who has committed to pitch at Vanderbilt, just as Gloucester was starting to get used to the tricky Stevens.
Gillon was just as strong allowing three runs through six and scattering nine hits while walking none but the Bulldogs were able to scrap together a pair of two out hits in the fifth inning to bring the winning runs across the board.
“It came down to timely hitting,” Orlando said. “They got a couple hits with guys on base and we didn’t. We are just in a little hitting slump right now. I would rather it happen now than in the tournament. I don’t want to say the team is in a slump because the defense was great again today and Sean was excellent on the mound, we just need the hitting to come around.”
“It was a well pitched game, we were just able to get a few clutch hits to get a few runs across,” Lynn English head coach Joe Caponigro said. “We definitely didn’t crush the ball at all but we did enough to get the win against a good Gloucester team.”
The Fishermen drew first blood in the bottom of the third inning when Peter Clark ripped a line shot over the left field fence for a solo home run to make it 1-0. But that was all the Lynn English pitching staff would allow.
Bowden knotted the score at 1-1 the next half inning with a solo shot of his own despite the effort of centerfielder Mark Horgan, who crashed through the gate in centerfield attempting to make a jumping catch on Bowden’s homer. Horgan would exact some revenge in the sixth with a diving grab in centerfield taking a base hit away from Lynn English’s Andrew Napoleon.
The Bulldogs took the lead in the top of the fifth with a two out rally. Jay Meagher made it 2-1 when he singled in Anthony De La Cruz, who singled. One batter later Bowden drove in Meagher with a bloop single to left to cap the scoring at 3-1.
Gloucester threatened in fifth putting the first two runners on base, but Caponigro went to his ace, Bowden, who didn’t allow a hit retiring nine of the 10 batters he faced to earn the save.
At 10-7 Gloucester has dropped two straight since clinching a state tournament berth, but Orlando has seen too much good baseball from his team to panic.
“I like the way we’ve been playing,” Orlando said. “We just need to get out of this hitting slump. We have been facing good pitchers but that’s what we like because we will only face good pitchers in the tournament. We will break out of this slump, this is a good hitting team.”