AYER — The Ayer-Shirley baseball team entered Wednesday’s baseball game against Murdock searching for its first win. After 2 1/2 innings, the Panthers trailed 8-1 and that quest seemed to have eluded them. But a funny thing happened on the way to the defeat as a glorious 12-run bottom of the third turned things around and paved the way to a 15-9 win.
Brian Waite earned the victory on the mound for the Panthers with a complete-game effort. Gaining the lead seemed to revitalize the righthander, who allowed just one run over the final four innings.
Offensively, the Panthers have struggled to score runs this season but on this day hitting became contagious as every slot in the line-up contributed at least one hit and Ayer-Shirley sprayed 16 hits all over the field.
“This was a team win,” said Ayer-Shirley coach Scott Callanan, who earned his first varsity victory. “We have stressed effort and intensity and today the kids answered the bell. Brian settled down on the mound, threw strikes and pitched to contact.”
The Ayer-Shirley defense also chipped in, committing just a single error.
“Kyle Larter and Danny Baldino did nice jobs on the left side of the infield,” said Callanan. “James Timmins came in a played well at first base, and Jake Hannon did a solid job as the emergency catcher.”
Murdock came out swinging and jumped on top with four runs in the top of the first. Kyle Chumsae led off with a triple and Corey Draleau walked. After Chumsae scored on an error, a two-run single by Brandon Lucier and an RBI single by Trevor Allen gave the Blue Devils a quick four-run advantage. It could have been worse, but Ayer-Shirley third baseman Larter fielded a ground ball, stepped on third and fired to first for an inning-ending double play.
The Panthers got one run back in the bottom of the inning when Baldino reached on a two-base error, moved to third on Mark Calabrese’s bunt single and scored when Luke Snyder grounded out against Murdock starting pitcher Tim Enright.
Neither team scored in the second, setting the stage for a wild third inning.
The Blue Devils tacked on another four-spot in the top of the inning. The key hits were run-producing doubles by Trevor Allen and Pat Culverhouse and an RBI single by Andrew Polcari.
Trailing 8-1, the Panthers erupted with 10 hits in the bottom of the inning. Both Larter (single, RBI double) and Hannon (two-run single, RBI single) had two hits in the frame. Jack Murphy came on in relief with one out, but was greeted by an RBI single by Calabrese, a single by Luke Snyder, Larter’s run-producing double, an RBI single by Hannon, and a single by Timmins as the Panthers grabbed a 13-8 lead.
Waite came out and pitched an important shutdown inning in the fourth, inducing an inning-ending pop-out to strand runners on second and third. He received defensive help from catcher Hannon, who gunned down a runner attempting to steal third.
Ayer-Shirley tacked on a run in the bottom of the fifth when Mitch Taylor singled and eventually scored.
Murdock got that run back in the top of the sixth when Allen’s groundout plated Connor Botko, before the Panthers capped the scoring in the game in the bottom of the inning when Alex Walker walked, stole second and scored on Calabrese’s single.
The game ended with Chumsae trying to steal home.
Hannon (run scored, three RBI) and Calabrese (two runs scored, two RBI) each had three singles to pace the Panthers’ offensive attack. Snyder added a single, double, a run scored and a run-batted-in while Baldino reached base in four of his five plate appearances out of the lead-off slot and scored three runs.