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Noah Watson’s one-hitter is not enough for Ayer Shirley

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BOYLSTON – With a trip to the Division 4 Central Mass district tournament on the line, the Ayer Shirley baseball teaml’s task on paper was simple Sunday afternoon – win and it is in. Lose and summer vacation starts early.

The Panthers, however, had the odds stacked against them, when it visited Tahanto, who was hoping to complete the unbeaten regular season -like Groton-Dunstable did last year in Division 3.

Ayer Shirley senior pitcher Noah Watson did all he could to keep the Panthers’ playoff hopes alive by one-hitting the Stags’ potent offense Tahanto managed to eek out a 1-0 victory ending Ayer Shirley’s season at 7-9. Jarrod Oberg and Watson each hit a double in the game for the Panthers. Tahanto completed the undefeated regular season (19-0) with a 9-1 Memorial Day win over Bromfield

Ayer Shirley had an opportunity to tie the game in the sixth inning, when Watson launched a double into the left-center field gap. Oberg, who doubled earlier in the inning, took off from second and appeared to be ahead of the throw. The senior shortstop neglected to slide and Tahanto catcher Trevor Sasso slapped the tag on his chest for the second out of the inning.

“The loss to Lunenburg and the one-run loss to an 18-0 team is just a microcosm of our season.” said Ayer Shirley head coach Billy Wright. “We had chances – we just couldn’t produce when we needed to. We’re gonna lose three seniors and we got 8 kids coming back – there’s a lot to build on. We have a few kids at the younger level who are going to help us out next season. Right now, that is the only blessing to take away from this game.”

Watson struck out three batters and walked two in the no-hit performance. Tahanto’s Ross Herrick sprayed a curve ball opposite field that dropped into shallow right and scored Sasso, who walked on a 3-1 count earlier in the second inning.

“It’a a frustrating way to go out as a senior,” Wright said of Watson’s outing. “He started pitching ahead in the third, fourth and fifth inning. The defense was playing well behind him. I don’t think they committed an error. This is just where we are right now as a team.

Ayer Shirley right fielder Christian Hoffman recorded three put outs on the day. In the bottom half of the first inning, Tahanto leadoff man Teddy Solomonides was ruled out on a runner’s interference play, when he was hit with the ball in fair territory on the throw before reaching the bag.Solomindes was initially ruled safe by the first-base umpire but after a discussion with the home plate umpire, he was ruled out on the play without protest.

Ayer Shirley was sent packing 1-2-3 in the first three innings. The Panthers got their first baserunner of the game in the fourth, when center fielder Steven Lawton ripped a leadoff single to left field. Lawton advanced to second on a walk and to third on a sacrifice-fly by Watson. Andrew Consalvo’s ground out to short left Lawton stranded at third as the inning concluded with Tahanto up 1-0.

After surrendering the game’s lone run in the second, Watson did not budge an inch. The senior retired the next 12 batters he faced in order to close out the game with a performance to remember.

Tahanto’s Holden Lutz struck out 10 and scattered 5 hits through seven innings to pick up the win.

Ayer Shirley out-hit the Stags, 5-1.

Follow Ed Niser on Twitter:@EdNiser

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