GROTON — Groton-Dunstable sophomore starting pitcher Aidan Ward dealt a solid performance on the hill for the Crusaders in a 14-0 romp past visiting non-division opponent, Murdock.
Ward went five innings giving up just one hit and issuing six strikeouts. Ward went 4 1-3 innings without surrendering a hit until Murdock’s Kevin Suchoki broke up the sophomore’s no-hit bid with a one-out double to the gap in left center field in the fifth inning.
“We had a couple of tight games recently, and we needed to get on the right side of things,” Eighth-year Groton-Dunstable head coach Matt LeBlanc said after Tuesday’s win.
“Aidan set the tone for us. He really threw the ball. He even hurt his hamstring a bit and he gutted it out. I told him that I would replace him, but he wanted to stay out there.
I put him back out there in the fifth because he really wanted to give the no-hitter a go. He made the difference today.”
Groton-Dunstable was led at the dish by senior Dean McCann, who finished 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles.
Sophomore Kyle Priest led the Crusaders with 4 RBIs.
The Crusaders did much of their damage in the opening inning roughing up Murdock starter Tyler Perry for two hits, an error and a walk.
The Crusaders brought across five runs in the first inning — three of which were earned.
Groton-Dunstable bounded out to a 5-0 lead after Priest walloped a gap-shot to left center field that got down and allowed Ward, Andrew Sinnery and Alex Marken to come across and score.
Ward mowed down the bottom third of the Blue Devils’ lineup in succession with three strikeouts on 12 pitches.
Groton-Dunstable batted around again in the second inning touching up Perry for three hits on two errors. Sinnery swatted home
Ward, who reached earlier in the inning with a walk.
Priest drew a bases-loaded walk to bring home the Crusaders’ third-run of the frame. Groton-Dunstable took an 11-0 lead at the end of two.
Xavier Cepeda lined out to right to start the top half of the third inning for the Blue Devils. Murdock’s first base runner of the game came on a two-out walk to Dom Allard.
Ward sniped Allard at first with a swift pick off move to end the inning. Groton-Dunstable left one stranded in the home half of the third after McCann swatted a bullet down the third-baseline for a double.
Marken grounded out to short to end the inning. It was three-up, three-down in the fourth for Murdock. Groton-Dunstable tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the fourth with an RBI single by Ward that plated Matt Krikorian, who reached on an error. Ward’s no-hit bid was cut short on a slicing double by Suchoki to the gap in left-center field. Suchoski was left stranded as Ward struck out John Murphy and Cepeda to end the inning.
Joe Simeone came onto pitch for the Crusaders in the sixth-and-seventh inning and allowed just two hits while striking out one. Groton-Dunstable turned a 6-4-3 double play in the final inning — its only of the ballgame. With the win, Groton-Dunstable improves to 2-3 on the season.
The Crusaders’ second run of the inning came on a wild pitch which allowed Justin Watt to scamper across to make it 13-0. Groton-Dunstable picked up its final run on a wild pitch in the bottom of the sixth. Groton-Dunstable had 10 hits in the game.
Jeremy Gaissl finished with 3 RBI on two singles for the Crusaders.
“We needed it,” he said about the win. “We have a chance to go back to .500 if we beat Dracut (today) . We had a lot of good at-bats today. I think we hit the ball pretty good. We really have been focusing on defense, and I like how we didn’t give up an error until the seventh inning. We had some timely hits, but they did give us a few errors.”
LeBlanc’s brother, Chris, is the head coach at Murdock.
“It’s always nice to play Murdock,” he said. “I have to hand it to them coming out here. My brother and I were looking forward to it. It is certainly a special game for us.”