By Ed Niser
GROTON — With the field in complete disarray due to steady rain throughout the day, members of the Groton-Dunstable baseball team prior to first pitch went on a shopping trip for drying agent.
As the rain poured down, it was Chris Lattini who scampered home as Jacob Barnes reached safely on an error to the right side in the bottom of the eighth inning to down North Middlesex (5-4, 4-2 Mid Wach B), 2-1, in walk-off fashion.
“It all started with the at-bat and I did all I could to get on,” Lattini said. “I stole second and I looked to coach as Barnes made contact and hustled as hard as I could to score. It is a big win for us and it keeps our momentum going. We have been playing well as a team.”
Aidan Ward (2 for 3) and Lattini led the way for the Crusader offense with two hits each.
The Crusaders improve to 5-0 in Mid Wach B play and 7-0 overall.
“I was very impressed with both of the guys NM threw,” Said Groton-Dunstable head coach Matt LeBlanc. “Justin (Watt) threw a lot of first-pitch strikes and he just pounded the zone like he always does. He’s been just really valuable for us early in the season. I am glad it was Jake who helped us get the win on a misplayed ball — he struggled at the plate today. Lattini’s hit and stolen base in the eighth inning was the play of the game.”
Groton-Dunstable received another lights-out performance from senior ace Justin Watt, who went the distance striking out 16 and allowing one run on three hits.
“I was definitely getting tired,but everyone was looking good today and played great,” Watt said. “It is a great win for us. The conditions could have been a bit better, but the tarp definitely helped. We put in two solid hours of raking everything.”
David Neuhaus took a no decision despite a solid seven inning outing with eight strikeouts allowing one run on five hits.
“The fans saw a great game played by both pitchers,” Said North Middlesex head coach Tom Bartelson. “Watt had us on our front foot again. We would have liked to have this one, but as the old adage goes, ‘the team that makes the least errors wins the game.”
Groton-Dunstable drew first blood as Ethan Cook deposited a line-drive into left field and scored first baseman Patrick Keating from third who reached on a fielder’s choice and advanced on a throwing error.
From there on out, it was a stalemate.
Watt mowed down the Patriots in order in the third inning on just 10 pitches. Neuhaus was equally effective as he sent the Crusaders packing in the third.
North Middlesex equalized in the fourth inning on a line drive to left field from Patrick Aubuchon that scored Rich Sharp from third. Nick White, who reached on a single, bounded for home as Sharp reached on an error but was hosed on the throw from Groton-Dunstable third baseman Gavin Keough for the second out of the inning.
Groton-Dunstable threatened in the bottom half of the inning as Aidan Ward socked a two-out single and stole a base and advanced to third on a throwing error. However, Neuhaus induced a ground out to second to get Kyle Priest with the final out of the inning to leave the game knotted at 1-1.
“It was one of those games you never felt comfortable the whole time — at least I didn’t,” LeBlanc said. “Neuhaus pitched a great game for him. We are trying to find it at the plate, but it is a tough day to hit, so we will take them any way we can. These kind of games can build character.”
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