AYER — With nine games scheduled in the final 13 days of the regular season, the Ayer baseball team is in survival mode. It will be incumbent for all hands to chip in if the Panthers are to get through this brutal stretch and cement a post-season berth.
It was mission accomplished on a gusty Saturday afternoon when the Panthers rallied for four runs in the bottom of the fourth to pull out an important 6-4 win over Narragansett.
Freshman Jon Minnich came up clutch with a two-out, two-run single in the fourth to tie the game, before junior Will Comerford added another two-run single up the middle to put Ayer on top for good.
Senior lefthander Jason Jones then came in and tossed three hitless, shutout innings to earn the save, notching back-to-back strikeouts with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh.
Ayer starting pitcher Jon Bollinger tossed a goose egg in the top of the first, before the Panthers drew first blood in the bottom of the inning against Narragansett complete game pitcher Frank Yavorosky, who allowed one earned run and sixth hits while striking out seven over six innings.
Comerford led off with a single and scored on Derek Migrants’ long double to right. Migrants stole third and scored when the throw sailed into left field to put the Panthers on top 2-0.
The Warriors bounced right back to take the lead with a two-out rally in the top of the second. After the first two hitters were retired easily, Tim Hamel and Craig Miller walked, and Sean Connolly singled to load the bases. Yavorosky helped his own cause by lining a triple to left which cleared the bases. When Yavorosky scored on an error, Narragansett led 4-2.
Bollinger settled down nicely and kept the Warriors off the board in the third and fourth innings, but Yavorosky breezed through the second and third innings, retiring six consecutive hitters as the 4-2 lead remained intact.
Ayer then grabbed the lead by mounting a two-out rally of their own. Dan Quin and Kenny Rollins drew walks before Josh Pinard reached on an error to load the bases. Minnich fell behind 0-2 on the count but ripped a single up the middle to tie the game, setting the stage for Comerford’s game-winner.
Jones came in throwing strikes and mixing his pitches well and rolled through the fifth and sixth innings, but the Warriors threw a scare into the Panthers in the seventh. Brian Ciaramitaro walked and Dave Bennett reached safely when the Panthers couldn’t retire anyone on his grounder, putting runners on first and second with no outs. After Jones got the next hitter to pop out, Mike Doyle walked to load the bases and put the lead run on first base. Jones then bore down and got a swinging strikeout, before getting a called third strikeout to end it.
Comerford paced the Panthers with a pair of singles, a run scored and two runs-batted-in. Quin walked, singled and scored a run. Bollinger picked up the win on the mound, allowing three earned runs and three hits while striking out two and walking four over four innings.