AYER — Ayer Shirley senior catcher Danny Baldino thumped a solo home run into the brush in right center field in the sixth inning, but it wasn’t enough as Ayer Shirley fell on the first day of Mid Wach D league play to Maynard, 4-3.
“We didn’t lay down today,” Ayer Shirley head coach Scott Callanan said after the loss. “I am proud of the effort, but I think that even the boys are not satisfied with this not being a victory.
This team is past the point of accepting moral victories. We believe we can beat anybody in our division. We are contenders — this loss does not change that mindset.”
Panthers centerfielder Alex Walker tripled, doubled and singled home a run in the loss. Ayer Shirley never led in the game.
Ayer Shirley right-hander Deven Sawyer no-hit the potent Maynard lineup through three innings, and allowed just four on the day over 5 and 2/3 innings. The crafty sophomore struck out five in the effort.
“Devin is so composed out there on the mound,” Callanan said. “He is well beyond his years in terms of his maturity. During one of the huddles between innings, one of the guys said ‘my bad out there’ to him. And, Deven told him ‘no worries.’ He understands that we will get it back with the bats. He really trusts his teammates.”
Sawyer made quick work of the Maynard lineup in the top of the first, sending them down in order. The blustery conditions made fly balls a bear to deal with in the outfield, but Walker managed to shag a swirling shallow fly from Tyler Cedeno to end the inning.
Maynard sent its curveball hurling southpaw, Brenden Dyer, to the bump.
Dyer showed some command issues early, issuing a base on balls to Walker on four straight pitches. Walker swiped second and advanced to third on a throwing error.
Dyer recovered to get the next three Panthers, leaving Walker stranded 90-feet away at third with the potential go-ahead run.
Sawyer worked his way out of a jam in the second inning. A hit batter and a walk with a fielding error, put runners at second and third with one out. Sawyer fanned Tom Geiger and Alex Kusich to escape the frame unscathed.
Deven Keady roped a single to left field, but Dyer caught him napping on the path at first.
Maynard broke the scoreless gridlock in the third. Dyer helped his own cause with a roping one-run single down the first base line to plate Brett Usher, who led off the inning with a single. The Tigers tacked on an insurance run on a throwing error to make it 2-0 heading into the bottom of the third.
In the third, Walker roped his first of two doubles on the day to center field. However, Walker, yet again was left stranded. Dyer induced a Steven Lawton fly out to end the inning.
The Ayer Shirley offense strung together some hits in the bottom of the fourth. Baldino worked a full-count walk and later scored on an opposite field poke to right field by second baseman Alex Calabrese.
Calabrese sprayed the one-run single to right field, which gave the speedy Baldino plenty of time to scurry home to cut the Maynard lead to 2-1.
The Tigers responded with two runs in the fifth inning to push their lead out to 4-1. Ayer Shirley cut the lead to one-run on a two-run mammoth home run blast from Baldino in the sixth.
Baldino went opposite field, sending the ball into the woods in right-centerfield to five the Panthers a much needed spark.
Baldino also started a 2-6-3 double play with his throw down to second in the seventh inning.
Follow Ed Niser on Twitter/Tout:@EdNiser