BY GENE DELORENZO
BRANDON — It was another day of playing a really good baseball game – and another tough loss for the Otter nine as they dropped a 5-2 extra-inning defeat to the Hartford Hurricanes on Thursday, May 28 in Brandon.
The Hurricanes took advantage of a wind-blown fly ball (they are the Hurricanes, after all) and turned the misplayed fly ball into four runs in the top of the eighth to pin yet another tough defeat on the home team.
On Senior Day, Coach Mike Howe handed the ball to Fraser Pierpont and the right-hander turned in a beauty. Through seven innings Pierpont gave up one run on four hits, four walks, one hit batter, and four strikeouts. The senior only went to four three-ball counts through the first seven.
Pierpont could also be the poster child for those fans who would like to see the MLB go to a pitcher’s shot clock. He is tremendous at getting the ball and just pitching, with no wasted time or energy. He gets it and throws. He must be a joy to play behind on defense.
On this day, he would cruise through the Hurricane’s lineup three times, while allowing only the one run on a single by Drew Martin.
Meanwhile, Hurricane starter Zach Johnson did likewise with the Otter lineup. He would need only 108 pitches to get through the Otter’s lineup. He struck out 11, walked only three, and gave up but two hits. The first of those, a single by Andy McErnerny, broke his no-hit bid in the fifth. The single was followed by a walk and a stolen base, putting runners on first and third with two out.
Then, a perfectly executed delayed double steal by Bryant and McErnerny would plate the Otter’s only run through the first seven innings of the game, tying the game at 1-1 and sending it to extra innings.
The overall lack of hitting has plagued the team all season, but in all fairness, the team seems to have faced the aces of the opponents’ staff almost every time. Johnson proved to be another in a long lineup of pitching foes that has shown a good fastball, breaking stuff, and excellent command of his repertoire. This writer has been very impressed with virtually all of the pitching that has come through Brandon this spring.
In the fateful eighth, Pierpont walked Joey Beggs on a close 3-2 pitch and got Johnson to hit a high pop to left. But the Otters’ left fielder had trouble with the wind (do the Hurricanes bring the wind with them?) and it dropped in, advancing runners to first and second. After a flyball out to centerfield, first baseman Colin Veilleux would drive in two runs with a sharp single. Matt Hayes, Drew Martin and Noah Arsenault would all follow with singles and Pierpont’s day was done.
It was an excellent performance, but throwing 111 pitches proved to be a bit too much for the senior. Caleb Whitney would come on to strike out the final batter.
Hartford’s Johnson lasted into the first out of the eighth inning, before relief pitching expert Tommy Mangieri came in to get the final two outs.
Luca Polli would hit a sacrifice fly for the Otters’ second run in the bottom of the eighth, but it was too little, too late for OVUHS. Hartford would close out the 5-2 win.
With the loss, Otter Valley dropped to 5-10. Hartford improved to 7-7. Otter Valley will travel to Fair Haven for a Senior Day game against their neighboring foe.