HUDSON — Steve Smith’s two-out, run-producing single in the top of the third broke a 3-3 tie and fueled the Ayer/Shirley/Harvard Titans to a 13-6 win over Leominster in Montachusett Senior Babe Ruth action on Friday night.
Peter Knowles enjoyed a strong game in keying the victory, earning the victory on the mound with four strong innings (no earned runs, two hits, eight strikeouts, four walks) while going 2-for-3 offensively with a home run, two runs scored and two runs batted in.
The Titans came out swinging and took the lead in the top of the first with three runs. Mike Duffy singled and Kyle Montemagno walked to set the table. After Smith delivered an RBI single, Knowles drove a shot over the left field fence to make it 3-0 against Leominster starting pitcher Vinny Bianco, who took the loss, surrendering five earned runs and six hits over 3+ innings.
Leominster bounced back in the bottom of the first against Titans’ starting pitcher Kyle Macri with two runs. Nico Racine led off with a long triple and scored on Ryan O’Laughlin’s single. O’Laughlin later scored on a passed ball to make it 3-2.
After the Titans were retired in order in the top of the second, Leominster tied the game in the bottom of the inning when Matt Crisci walked and scored on a wild pitch. Montemagno was summoned in relief for the Titans with the bases loaded and one out and induced a fly ball to left field. Knowles then fired a perfect one-hop throw to catcher Dave Oslin to erase the potential lead run.
Ayer/Shirley/Harvard took the lead in the top of the third on Smith’s clutch single, and Knowles came on in relief and quieted the Leominster offense, stranding a pair of Leominster runners in the bottom of the inning with an inning-ending strikeout.
The Titans erupted for four runs in the top of the fourth to extend the lead to 8-3 with help from some shoddy Leominster defense. Macri manufactured a run by leading off with a single, stealing second and coming around to score on a pair of errant throws. Clayton Galeski walked and Oslin singled. Sean Harrigan came on in relief for Leominster and Jared Kroening grounded out to plate Galeski. Before the inning was over, Oslin and Will Byler (single) both came around to score to create some breathing room.
Knowles tossed another goose egg in the bottom of the inning, aided by a strong throw by catcher Byler to erase an attempted basestealer at second base.
The Titans put the game away with another four-spot in the top of the sixth, once again helped by a generous Leominster defense that committed two costly errors. The key hit in the inning were a two-run single by Duffy and a run-producing single by Montemagno.
Leominster refused to quit and scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth. Max Rouleau led off by drawing a walk, and Bianco reached on an error to put runners on first and second with no outs. Knowles bore down and retired the next two hitters, but Racine ripped his second triple of the game and scored on an errant throw to make it 12-6.
The Titans wrapped up the scoring with a run in the top of the seventh. Knowles was hit by a pitch and Macri singled. One out later, Oslin delivered an RBI single to make it 13-6.
Smith was summoned in relief in the bottom of the seventh and sealed the deal, allowing just a walk while picking up a strikeout.
The Titans featured a balanced offense in the contest as they racked up 13 hits. Duffy (two runs scored, two RBI), Smith (RBI), Macri (run scored) and Oslin (two runs scored, RBI) each had two singles.
Racine led Leominster with two triples, two runs scored and two runs-batted-in while O’Laughlin added two singles, a run scored and an RBI.