MARLBORO — Assabet Valley scored four runs in the bottom of the first and Ayer-Shirley was never able to get its offense into gear to catch up as the Aztecs posted a 7-2 win on Tuesday morning in Marlboro.
Tom Walsh earned the victory on the mound with a complete-game effort, allowing no earned runs and three hits over seven innings. He struck out three and walked four and did a nice job of keeping the ball down in the strike zone.
Danny Baldino took the loss for Ayer-Shirley, allowing three earned runs and five hits over 3 2/3 innings while striking out five and walking six. Brian Waite turned in a strong relief stint for the Panthers, allowing an unearned run and no hits over 2 1/3 innings while striking out two and walking two.
After Walsh set the Panthers down in order in the top of the first, Assabet Valley took control of the game in the bottom of the inning as Josh Moylan and Ryan McKnight sandwiched bunt singles around Zach Downing reaching on an error to load the bases with no outs. Will Brodeur’s two-run single made it 2-0, but Baldino appeared on the verge of working out of further trouble as he retired the next two hitters, but Jake Yanchewski’s pop-up was dropped and both McKnight and Brodeur scored.
The Aztecs added single runs in the second and third to extend the lead to 6-0 before the Panthers finally were able to get on the scoreboard with two runs in the top of the fifth, without the benefit of a hit. Brian Waite led off by drawing a walk and Jordan Herrera pinch ran for him. After Kyle Larter reached on an error, Ryan Coulter grounded into a fielder’s choice. Herrera scored on the front end of a double steal and Coulter came around to score on an error later in the inning to cut the lead to 6-2.ß
Ayer-Shirley battled to the final out and mounted a threat in the top of the seventh when Larter singled and Brent Routhier reached on an error, but Walsh bore down and induced a groundout to seal the deal. The Panthers had their chances offensively but struggled to come up with the timely hit.
“We came out flat,” said Ayer-Shirley coach Scott Callanan. “They came out and laid down two bunts in the first innings and we made some mistakes. Brian Waite came into the game and settled things down. He threw strikes and did a nice job.”
Ayer-Shirley centerfielder Coulter turned in a strong defensive effort.
Moylan also played a strong defensive game in center field for the Aztecs.