DISTRICT 3 BASEBALL
By Ken Blanchette
ATHOL — The Townsend All-Stars impressed as the advanced through Pool B and into the next round of the District 3 Tournament, but a new challenge awaited them on a steamy July 5 when the journeyed to Athol to take on a tough Quabbin squad. Quabbin dominated in all aspects of the game and rolled to a 9-4 win, keyed by a solid combination of pitching, power and defense.
Left-hander Ryan Clark picked up the win on the mound for Quabbin, working four innings and allowing three earned runs and five hits while striking out seven and walking two. Drew Patria, who keyed Quabbin’s offense with a big day, retired all five hitters he faced, including four strikeout, before Tyler Dion sealed the deal by picking up the final out.
David Neuhaus took the loss for Townsend, pitching 3+ innings and striking out four. Chris Powell finished up with two strong innings, allowing one hit while notching a strikeout.
Townsend was the visiting team and drew first blood when they mounted a two-out rally in the top of the first. After Clark retired the first two hitters of the game, Powell and Richie Sharp singled, and Neuhaus walked to load the bases. Colin Lomax reached on an error as Powell scored to make it 1-0. Clark escaped further damage when he induced an inning-ending pop-up to strand the bases loaded.
Quabbin bounced back to take the lead for good in the bottom of the inning, aided by some loose Townsend defense. Jake Boucner reached on an error and Tevin Hasselman walked to set the table. After a strikeout, Patria launched a prodigious home run over the trees in left center field to make it 3-1. Quabbin appeared poised to add on to the advantage when Jake Lanpher singled and Clark reached on an error, but a great defensive play by Townsend short-circuited the rally as Neuhaus fielded a ground ball, fired to third baseman Powell to erase the lead runner, and Powell’s strong throw to second baseman Jared Borneman completed the rare double play.
Clark breezed through a 1-2-3 top of the second inning, and Quabbin padded the lead in the bottom of the inning.
Randy White singled and David Roach walked and both runners moved into scoring position on a passed ball. Boucher came through with a two-run single to make it 5-1 and scored later in the inning on Lanpher’s run-producing single.
Trailing 6-1, Townsend climbed back into the game in the top of the third. Richie Hubbard led off by drawing a walk and moved to second when Powell singled. Sharp turned around a fastball and drove it well over the left center field fence to make it 6-4. Jarod Dussault singled with two outs, but Clark bore down and notched an inning-ending strikeout to keep the two-run lead intact.
Quabbin continued to put the pressure on offensively and answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning to boost the advantage to 8-4. After the first two hitters were retired, Logan Hjeln singled and moved to second when Boucher reached on an error. Hasselman delivered a run-scoring single and Boucher came all the way around to score on an errant throw.
Clark finished off his stint on the mound with a 1-2-3 top of the fourth, including a pair of strikeouts, and Quabbin scored a run in the bottom of the inning to make it 9-4. Patria, who had walked in his second plate appearance, drove a line drive over the right center field fence to make it a five-run game. Powell came on in relief with a runner on first and no outs and surrendered a single to Clark to put runners on first and second, but showed solid poise as he retired the next three hitters to escape.
Patria shifted from first base to the mound in the top of the fifth and came in throwing hard, working a 1-2-3 innings with a pair of strikeouts.
Powell answered with a perfect bottom of the fifth and the game went to the top of the seventh with Quabbin on top 9-4.
Patria struck out the first two hitters he faced in the top of the sixth, and Dion was summoned in relief. Townsend continued to fight as Adam Grieman and Borneman drew walks, but a strikeout ended the game.
Patria paced Quabbin’s 10-hit offensive attack with two home runs, four runs-batted-in and two runs scored. Lanpher enjoyed a perfect 3-for-3 afternoon at the plate with three singles and a run-batted-in. Boucher did a solid job of performing his leadoff duties with a single, three runs scored and two runs-batted-in. Quabbin played strong defense in the contest, committing just a single error.
Sharp led the Townsend offense with a single, home run, a run scored and three runs-batted-in. Powell added two singles and two runs scored.