BANGOR — When two talented pitchers are on top of their game, an unearned run can be the difference.
That was the case Sunday at Mansfield Stadium as Manhattan Beach, Calif.’s Brett Clark reached on an error to start the bottom of the seventh inning and scored on Bret Collins’ one-out single to give the U.S. West representatives a 2-1 win over U.S. Southeast champion Palm Bay, Fla., in a Senior League World Series Pool B opener.
Collins smacked the first pitch he saw from Florida reliever Matthew Rose into deep left and Clark could easily trot home.
“I was looking dead-fastball, I was just trying to hit it out of the infield,” said Collins. “It was my favorite pitch, right down the pike.”
Both starting pitchers, Manhattan’s Anthony Lombardo and Matthew Meyer of Palm Bay, were outstanding, each giving up only one run.
But it was California’s Morgan Ascher who earned the victory in relief, pitching two hitless innings while walking one and striking out four.
“He did a great job coming in and shutting them down,” said Lombardo, who kept Florida off-balance with a steady diet of fastballs and curveballs.
Florida did reach him for a run in the first as Matt Meyer singled, went to second when the throw from the outfield went to first, and subsequently took third when no one covered the bag and California didn’t call time.
Meyer later scored on a wild pitch.
“I asked the umpire, ‘do you guys kill the play or call time when nothing’s going on?’, and he said ‘no, you have to call it,’” Manhattan manager Carlos Rojas said. “It was a learning experience for us.”
Rojas’ club tied it in the second on a walk, single, hit batter and RBI fielder’s choice by Jackson Lipps.
Florida had plenty of chances to break the deadlock, but left the bases loaded in the third and fourth innings, stranding eight runners in all, while four errors also hurt manager Mike Everette’s team.
“You can’t win ballgames like that,” he said. “Six out of those eight runners were bases loaded, both times with two outs. I wound up with the guys I wanted at the plate, too. It just didn’t happen for us.”
Meyer, a lefthander, did give his team plenty of chances by keeping Manhattan off the scoreboard, but his counterpart Lombardo, also a lefty, was just as good.
“[Meyer’s] one of the best pitchers we’ve faced,” Rojas said. “At one point, we were trying to keep up with him pitch by pitch. That was my message to my starting pitcher, let’s play this game one inning at a time.”
Ascher also did his job in relief, keeping Palm Bay off the bases and giving his team a chance to win in the bottom of the seventh.
“I just kind of started off the guys with fastballs and as I got deeper in the counts I threw more curveballs,” he said. “It was just working today, I was confident throwing it.”
Southeast (0-1) 100 000 0 — 1 2 4
West (1-0) 010 000 1 — 2 5 0
Meyer, Rose (7) and Tolle; Lombardo, Ascher (6) and McLoughlin; WP-Ascher (1-0); LP-Rose (0-1)