Photos and text by Steev Riccardo
Oxford Pirates senior Pitcher Nick Lemay (above) struck out 16 Quaboag Cougars hitters en route to a 3-hit complete game shutout victory on opening day, Wednesday afternoon, at Oxford High School.
Lemay was outstanding, outdueling Cougars ace Thomas Jankins, who only allowed two hits while fanning 10 Pirate batters.
The Pirates scored their first run in the bottom of the first inning on an error and watched as Lemay pitched masterfully, at one point striking out seven straight Cougars batters.
The Cougars had a runner on second base with no outs in the bottom of the fourth inning when Lemay helped his own cause picking the runner off.
The Pirates scored three times in the top of the eighth. Nick Bruzios opened the inning by walking and then Lemay got the first Pirates hit of the game singling off Jankins to put runners on first and second with no outs. The Pirates executed a nice double steal, moving the runners up to second and third base. Jankins then made a crucial throwing error on a ground ball by Tyler Barrie and both runners scored, giving the Pirates a 3-0 lead.
Freshmen catcher James Sheehan came up big with a line drive double that scored Barrie, giving the Pirates an insurance run and a 4-0 lead that chased Jankins from the mound.
Lemay wrapped up the seventh inning, picking up his 16th strikeout of the game off the last hitter he faced.
Pirates Manager Justin Richards was impressed by Lemay’s performance. “Lemay is a four-year varsity player and he knows that he has to be the ace of this staff and we knew going in that their pitcher (Jankins) is outstanding. He is really good so we knew that it was probably going to be a pitchers duel. Lemay stepped up to the challenge, he knew when he had to overpower hitters, and he did, and he hit the spots when he had to.”
The pick-off play by Lemay is something the team has worked on and it certainly paid dividends. “We spend a lot of time on pickoff plays and for that purpose we can keep guys close. Lemay historically has been very good at that. Getting the one guy they had in scoring position in a 1-0 game made things very easy for us,” said Richards.
“We go over that in practice a lot, probably every other day,” said Lemay, “I love that move, the spin throw. We got two or three guys like that last year.”
Lemay knew he had to be on top of his game facing a pitcher like Jankins, “I have never faced him but I have seen him at a couple showcases. He throws wicked hard, he is also a great hitter.”
Richards was also happy with his freshmen catcher Sheehan, who had a big hit and also threw out two Cougars runners attempting to steal. “He is only a freshmen, he can be real good if he wants to be and this was a very good first game for him.”
- Friday, 06 April 2012
- Posted in Categories: : Sports