Nashoba rallies to knock off Crusaders

GROTON – After breaking a four game losing streak by rallying past Tyngsboro the day before, the Groton-Dunstable baseball team was looking to kill two birds with one stone on Friday afternoon when they hosted Nashoba. The Crusaders were seeking to build momentum and also trying to land their first MidWach B victory. They hung tough throughout, but Nashoba’s edge in the little things keyed a 5-3 win.

Groton-Dunstable received a solid effort on the mound from senior Vince Lehman, who went the route, allowing two earned runs and six hits while striking out 12 over seven innings, but Nashoba’s Matt Lane earned the win with a complete-game effort. Lane worked seven innings, allowing three earned runs and seven hits, while striking out three and walking three.

“We can’t afford to give more than three outs an inning,” said Groton-Dunstable coach Matt LeBlanc. “Vince pitched well but we had trouble making the routine plays and it cost us. We can’t rely on him to strike out every batter. We battled until the end, but we just didn’t do the little things we needed to to win.”

Nashoba jumped on top with an unearned run in the top of the first when Lane reached on an error, Matt Vittorioso walked and Pete Ruczinsk singled to load the bases with one out, before Andy Staszewki plated Lane when he grounded out.

The Crusaders scored twice in the bottom of the inning to take the lead. Doug Starbird was hit by a pitch and stole second, and scored from third when he beat the throw on Lehman’s ground ball. After Lehman stole second, Steve Roundtree’s sharp single to center put the Crusaders on top 2-1.

Groton-Dunstable extended the lead with a run in the second. Frank DiMaria led off with a walk, before Dan White was hit by a pitch and Starbird walked to load the bases with two outs. Jim Moniz hit a groundball into the shortstop hole, but a hustling Starbird beat the throw the second as DiMaria crossed the plate to make it 3-1.

Nashoba drew to within 3-2 with a run in the top of the third. Joel Mandell led off with a walk and stole second. After a pair of strikeouts, Ruczinsk came through with a clutch single to draw the Chieftains to within a run.

Nashoba took the lead for good in the top of the fourth, with some help from the Groton-Dunstable defense.

With one out, Mandell singled, stole second and moved to third on a throwing error. Lane helped himself with an RBI single to tie the game. After Vittorioso walked, Ruczinsk’s third single of the game plated Lane to make it 4-3. Staszewki reached on an error to load the bases with one out, but Lehman escaped further damage by fielding a ground ball and forcing the lead runner at the plate, before notching an inning-ending strikeout.

Lehman reached on an error to start the bottom of the fifth, but Lane came up big defensively, snagging Steve Carroll’s hot one-hopper and starting a double play.

Dan White blasted a two-out double to deep right in the sixth, but Lane induced a groundout to keep the one run lead intact.

The Chieftains added an important insurance run in the top of the seventh when Lane singled and scored on an error.

The Crusaders tried to mount a rally in their final at bat when Carroll singled with two outs and took second on an error, but Lane got a groundout to end it.

Ruczinski led Nashoba with three singles and two runs-batted-in. Lane added a pair of singles, three runs scored and an RBI, while Mandell singled and scored twice.

Roundtree led the Crusaders with a pair of singles and an RBI.