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PEPPERELL — Monday night’s game between the Pepperell Cardinals and Townsend A’s was a purist’s delight. The pitchers threw strikes, the defenses backed up their efforts and the game turned into a classic. When the smoke had cleared, the Pepperell Cardinals earned a hard-fought 2-1 win in eight innings, despite getting only four hits in the game.

Pitching was the story as both starters were superb. The Cardinals’ Chris Skelly tossed seven shutout innings, allowing five hits while striking out 16 and walking none. He did a great job of getting ahead on the count and climbing the ladder with his pitches and worked very well with catcher Brendan Twomey.

Brett Talcott of the A’s answered with a great effort. Over six shutout innings, the righthander allowed only two hits while striking out six and walking none. He used a baffling change-up to advantage in the game.

Skelly set the tone early with back-to-back 1-2-3 innings to start the game, including five strikeouts.

After Talcott tossed a goose egg in the bottom of the first, the Cardinals threatened in the bottom of the second when Hannah Gouldrup was hit by a pitch, and Chris Diaz singled, but Talcott induced an inning-ending groundout.

The A’s mounted threats in both the fifth and sixth innings.

In the fifth, Josh Miller doubled with one out, but Skelly struck out the next two hitters to escape.

In the sixth, singles by Talcott and Kyle Gavin put runners on first and second, but again Skelly picked up a key strikeout to keep the game on scoreless terms.

In the bottom of the sixth, the A’s flashed some leather to back up Talcott as Ben Corsini took a hit away from Brendan Twomey with a running catch in right center field, and first baseman Kyle Priest made a diving catch of a foul pop-up.

Skelly finished off his strong stint with a 1-2-3 top of the seventh, and A’s reliever Ethan Moran shut down the Cardinals in the bottom of the inning.

The A’s drew first blood in the top of the eighth against Cardinals relief pitcher Tyler Dexter. With one out, Tyler Dodge ripped a double and scored on Talcott’s single. Dexter did a nice job of damage control by retiring the next two hitters.

The Cardinals pulled the game out in the bottom of the inning. Danny Cafferty led off with a single, Nick Twomey walked and Skelly singled to load the bases. After a pop-out, Cafferty scored on a wild pitch, and Nick Twomey came around to score the winning run on an errant throw.

Miller led the A’s with a single and double, while Gavin added two singles. Both catchers, Gavin of the A’s and Brendan Twomey of the Cardinals played strong defensive games.

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