SHIRLEY — Shirley was looking to inch back to the .500 mark in American Legion play, but remained a game under .500 by splitting a pair of games. The Blackjack Brigade used a six-run first inning to propel a 12-2 rout of Natick, but wasted a solid effort on the hill by Alex Xarras when lack of offense doomed them in a 3-1 loss to Weston.
Lints and bats down Natick
A long trip to Natick proved fruitful for the Blackjack Brigade on Thursday night. Behind a 14-hit attack and a strong pitching performance from Lucas Lints, Shirley took a 12-2 decision and improved to 3-3.
Things got off to a good start as the Blackjack Brigade put up six runs in the top of the first. Jim Gibbons led off with a single and went to second when Xarras reached on catcher’s interference. Derek Migrants followed with a single to right that scored Gibbons and when the ball was misplayed, Xarras alertly came around to score. Will Comerford (single), Dan Kroening (double) and Mike Dargin (double) also provided run scoring hits during the inning as Shirley established a quick lead.
Lints kept the Natick hitters off balance, facing the minimum amount of batters through five innings, thanks in part to a pair of double plays. The Blackjack Brigade kept things going offensively with three more runs in the third. Chris Seward singled, before consecutive walks to John Shivo and Kroening loaded the bases. Dargin and Gibbons proceeded to pick up RBI’s with walks before Xarras drove home another run with a fielder’s choice that made it 9-0.
Two more runs in the fourth along with a single run in the fifth pushed the advantage to 12-0 as Lints continued to cruise. The right-hander entered the seventh inning having allowed only three hits and no walks and was trying to protect the shutout, but Natick had other ideas. Thomas Harvey ended the shutout bid with a two-out, two-run single that made it 12-2. Lints came back strong though, recording a strikeout to end the game and give Shirley win number three on the season.
Comerford led the Blackjack Brigade offense with four singles, two runs scored and a run-batted-in. Migrants added three singles, a run scored and an RBI while Dargin chipped in a walk, double, single and two RBI. Lints picked up the win in going the distance, allowing two earned runs on seven hits while walking one and striking out four.
Bats silent against Weston
After exploding for 12 runs against Natick, the Shirley bats went back into hibernation on Sunday. A lack of run support spoiled a solid complete game effort on the hill from Xarras as Weston handed the Blackjack Brigade a 3-1 loss.
It was a scoreless game until Weston hit for three runs in the bottom of the third. A pair of RBI singles by John Haluska and Mark Atwood was followed by a sacrifice fly by Matt Benson, giving the hosts a 3-0 lead.
Shirley responded in the top of the fourth, pushing across their lone run of the game. Comerford led off the inning with a single, stole second and scored on a long double by Rob Poirier. Unfortunately for the Blackjack Brigade, they stranded Poirier on third and would not come up with a better threat.
Xarras did a excellent job of keeping his team within striking distance, along with a solid job from his defense. The righty got out of a runner on third with one out jam in the fifth by recording consecutive strikeouts. In the sixth, Xarras got a fly out with two on to end the inning, but Shirley could not mount an offensive threat, dropping the 3-1 decision.
Poirier had two of the Blackjack Brigade’s three hits, doubling, singling and driving in a run while Comerford added a walk, single, run scored and stolen base. Xarras went the distance, allowing two earned runs on eight hits while walking one and striking out two.