TOWNSEND - The St. Bernard's/Fitchburg Montachusett Senior Babe Ruth team got the start that it was looking for Thursday. The visitors built a big seven-run cushion through the first three innings and got a strong outing from their starter en route to a comfortable 10-3 victory over North Middlesex at Schoppe Memorial Field.
St. Bernard's (4-2) snapped a two-game losing streak with the victory, after winning three straight to start the season. North Middlesex falls to 2-5.
"We changed up the lineup a little bit today," St. Bernard's head coach Colin Hanrahan said. "We were hoping to change things a bit, and today it just worked out. We've been hitting more and more each game, and today we finally let loose."
It was three up and three down in the first three innings for St. Bernard's starter Danny Grammel. He tallied four strikeouts during the stretch, and only one ball made it out of the infield. The offense backed him up with seven runs, which made it an early departure for Grammel.
"We knew (Grammel) could pitch, we just didn't know he could pitch this well," Hanrahan said. "He should definitely be a good addition to the varsity rotation when the spring season comes."
Fitchburg High shortstop Darius Flowers was a monster for St. Bernard's, going a perfect 4 for 4 on the day with three RBIs. Flowers cleared the loaded bases in the first to set the tone for the rest of the game.
"(Flowers) has always been a great hitter," Hanrahan said.
Grammel and Jose McCullough (2 for 4, RBI) singled to start the game, then Adam Hyde drew a walk to load the bases. Flowers then drilled a shot to center field, and the off-balance outfielder could not make a play, which cleared the bases and put St. Bernard's up 3-0. Two batters later Zach Merchant connected on a sacrifice fly to left field, which made it a quick 4-0 St. Bernard's lead.
An error and hit-batsman put two runners on in the second inning for St. Bernard's, then a passed ball advanced both into scoring position. McCullough delivered on a sacrifice fly to center field that extended the lead to five. Hyde followed it up when he delivered in his second hit of the game, lacing a flare to left field that made it 6-0.
The runs continued in the third for the Blue and Gold. Merchant drew a walk, then a Les Gomez single put runners on the corners. Gomez attempted to steal second during the next at-bat, and an errant throw not only allowed him to reach safely, but provided a window for Merchant to score the seventh run.
Josh Emma's sacrifice fly in the top of the fourth inning then made it 8-0.
"Our pitcher, Sam Ineson threw very well, we just didn't give him some of the support in the early innings in the field," North Middlesex head coach Ken Brown said. "We made a couple of errors, but he stayed in there and gutted it out. He threw strikes and got stronger as the game progressed."
After a St. Bernard's pitching change, North Middlesex was able to get on the scoreboard. Back-to-back singles from Dan Considine and Matt Brown put runners on the corners, then Considine scored on an error on a pickoff attempt.
The Patriots then came through in the bottom of the fifth inning, when Leighton Moylan doubled, took third on a passed ball and was driven in on a sacrifice fly to right by Ineson.
The visitors put the icing on the cake in the seventh inning. Eric Viola tallied his first hit of the game to start the inning, then an error allowed him to score.
Joe Feckley laid down a bunt next and turned on the jets to beat the throw, driving in his team's 10th run in the process.
Alex Reggio drove in North Middlesex's final run in the seventh when he reached on a fielder's choice with the bases loaded.