Bernardians Fall Just Shy Despite Solid Run
FITCHBURG -- Sitting with a record of 5-9, the St. Bernard’s baseball team had to win five of its final six games over a 10-day span to qualify for the Central Mass. Sectional Tournament.
To make the task more challenging, each of the Bernardians’ final six opponents was a tournament qualifier.
They nearly pulled it off.
St. B’s (9-11) saw its season come to a close with a 9-5 loss to Ayer Shirley on Sunday afternoon at the Bernardian Bowl. The Panthers (11-8) jumped out to an 8-0 lead and held off a furious Bernardian rally to snap a four-game losing streak.
“We’re definitely disappointed to lose and have the season end, but we feel like we had a successful year,” St. Bernard’s coach Jim Beauregard said. “We have a very young team. In fact, we had three freshmen out there starting today. As I told the boys, it’s a successful season if you can look back and say, ‘I prepared and I left everything on the field.’ ”
Junior Keegan Sharp (3 for 4) had a monster game at the plate to lead the St. Bernard’s offense. The towering slugger had a double and an RBI triple before cracking a two-run homer to dead-center field in the seventh inning to make things interesting. Freshman Jon Pinard (RBI) added a pair of hits for the Bernardians.
Steve Lawton had two hits, two stolen bases and scored a run to lead the Ayer Shirley attack. Andrew Consolvo reached base three times and drove in a run.
Ayer Shirley jumped out to a quick lead in the first inning, when Lawton stroked a one-out single, stole second and third, and scored when catcher Anthony DiNardo’s throw sailed into left field. The Panthers doubled the lead in the second on an RBI single by Chris Rooney off St. Bernard’s starter Chris Sullivan.
The Bernardians avoided further damage thanks to a heads-up play by shortstop Max Bigelow. Bigelow threw out Ian Keene for the final out of the inning after Keene had taken too wide of a turn past second on Rooney’s single.
St. Bernard’s had a golden opportunity to erase the deficit in the home half of the second, when a single by Matt Aronson and a hustle double by Sharp put runners on first and second with nobody out. But Rooney, who started and pitched the first two innings for Ayer Shirley, worked his way out of the jam by striking out the next three hitters to end the inning.
Ayer Shirley broke the game open with three runs in the fourth. Will Doyle had the big hit for the Panthers with a two-run single.
The lead ballooned to 8-0 with three unearned runs in the fifth, as St. Bernard’s defense started to get sloppy. The Panthers had just one hit in the inning but were aided by a third-strike passed ball, a bases-loaded wild pitch and an error.
But St. Bernard’s didn’t roll over. The Bernardians showed fight with a three-run rally in the sixth. Aronson singled and came around to score on a triple to deep right by Sharp. Pinard looped an RBI single to left and it was 8-2. Later, Pinard scored on a sacrifice fly by Charlie Morris to cut the lead to 8-3.
Ayer Shirley added an extra insurance run in the top of the seventh on an RBI single by Lawton.
Sharp closed out the scoring with his two-run blast to straightaway center in the home half of the seventh.