SHIRLEY -- The Shirley Titans U9 baseball team used a three-run third inning Saturday to edge Macintosh League rival Groton 11-9 in an all-around great game at Shirley's Dale Prentiss Field. The Titans were led at the plate by Nikhil Pratapagiri and Tyler Crawford,who had a single and an RBI in the win.
Groton took an early two-run lead in the top of the first inning on a pair of singles by Andrew Stenstram and C.J. Schuster, who roped an RBI single up the middle to plate Stenstram.
Schuster would later come across to score on a pitch that scooted to the backstop.
The Shirley offense used unflappable discipline in the home half of the inning. Both Zach Cebollero and Rajit Talluri worked back-to-back walks, and later scored on wild pitches.
Talluri snuck in under the tag of Groton pitcher Alex Hillenberg to make tie the game at 2-2. Hillenberg recovered with consecutive strikeouts that nibbled the corners.
The Titans put two more on via walks, but it left them stranded in scoring position as Zach Plunkett was retired by Hillenberg on an off-speed pitch.
Groton second baseman Evan Laudenslager worked a four-pitch walk to start the inning, and he later scored on a looping RBI double to right-centerfield by Colin Taylor.
The Crusaders brought across three additional runs in the inning on Shirley errors.
Schuster, Sam Dutile and Stenstram all scored in the inning to give Groton a 6-2 lead.
Shirley scored two runs in the second inning on Groton errors.
Cebollero and Pratapagiri both scored in the inning to trim Groton's lead to two-runs.
Groton centerfielder Griffin Poser belted a rocket single up the middle. Poser later scored on a Shirley error.
The Crusaders carried a 7-4 lead into the bottom of the third.
The Shirley bats responded as Mike Trombly wrapped a hard-hit ball to right field, but the Groton right fielder, Taylor, scooped up the ball and gunned him down at second for the first out of the inning.
Talluri smacked a one-out single to right field, and he later scored on an RBI single up the shoot by Tyler Crawford.
Crawford, Talluri and Noah Hunt, who walked, all scored to tie the game at 7-7.
Crawford, the Shirley reliever, came on to pitch in the fourth inning and he did not disappoint. Crawford battled back after falling behind 3-0 in the count to strikeout the first batter of the inning.
Hillenberg roped a single to left field and Derek Leedberg reached on a walk. The pair were left in scoring position, as Crawford retired the next two batters to end the inning unscathed.
Shirley added two runs in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single from Danny McCarron that scored Pratapagiri, who also singled in the inning, from second. McCarron later scored on an error to put the Titans in the driver's seat, 9-7, at the end of four.
Shirley, however, could not carry its lead into the fifth. Groton scored two runs behind a sacrifice bunt by Taylor and a Shirley error. Shirley plated two more runs in the home half of the inning to take an 11-9 lead.
Dutile had the lone extra-base hit for Groton in the game with his double to right centerfield in the fourth.Follow Ed Niser on Tout/Twitter:@EdNiser