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Hillside Construction holds off determined Precision Auto effort

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LEOMINSTER — The Hillside Construction Babe Ruth team has put together an outstanding season in Division 1 play with just a single loss. On Thursday night, Hillside Construction did just enough of the little things to slip past stubborn Precision Auto, 5-3.

Lefthander Matt Clarke earned the victory on the mound with five strong innings, allowing two earned runs and four hits while striking out six and walking two. Matt Heisler nailed down the victory, earning the save with tough work in the clutch over the final two innings. Despite allowing three hits and two walks, Heisler tossed a pair of goose eggs to seal the deal, backed by a pair of pretty double plays.

Hillside Construction grabbed the lead with a run in the top of the first. Leadoff hitter Ryan Fitzpatrick started the game with a superb at bat, coaxing a walk from Precision Auto complete-game pitcher Alex Quilles (seven innings, four earned runs, nine hits, six strikeouts, two walks). Dylan Poulin singled and Duke Kilbride walked to load the bases, before Joe MacDonald’s sacrifice fly made it 1-0.

Clarke pitched out of a bases loaded, one-out jam in the bottom of the inning by striking out two consecutive hitters, before Hillside Construction padded the lead with another run in the top of the second on back-to-back doubles by Clarke and Brian Cronin.

Precision Auto sliced the lead in half with a run in the bottom of the second and tied things up in the third on Quilles’ long home run over the left field fence. But Hillside Construction took the lead for good with a run in the top of the fourth when Kilbride singled and MacDonald doubled. Hillside Construction catcher Matt Canning prevented further damage in the second inning by picking a runner off third base.

Clarke came out and retired the side in order in the bottom of the inning, getting a quality defensive play from first baseman MacDonald, who made a leaping catch of a foul pop-up near the fence.

Hillside Construction then plated two runs in the top of the fifth to extend the lead to 5-2. Mike Chase led off with a double and moved to third on Heisler’s single. Heisler then stole second and both runners came around to score when the throw sailed into center field, plus an ensuing throwing error.

Precision Auto drew to within 5-3 with a run in the bottom of the fifth when Mark Tata doubled, stole third and scored on Jim Fusco’s groundout.

Quilles kept his team in the game with two scoreless innings. Precision Auto applied plenty of pressure over their final two at bats, but were denied by strong defense by Hillside Construction.

Heisler came on in relief and allowed a single to Mark Cordio and walks to Jared Fields and Eric Solloway, but he induced a ground ball to shortstop Poulin, who stepped on second and fired to first for an inning-ending double play.

Precision Auto refused to go quietly in the seventh. After a pop-out retired the first hitter, Larry Scannell and Quilles singled. Clean-up hitter Taylor Fletcher ripped a hard shot toward the middle. Second baseman Chase ranged to his right, gloved the ball, flipped to Poulin, who fired to first for a double play to end it.

Clarke led Hillside Construction with a single, double and run scored. Kilbride enjoyed a perfect day at the plate with a walk and two singles.

Quilles paced Precision Auto with two singles and a home run.

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