Rams rally in seventh inning for road win in Groton
By Shaun Moriarty
Citizen Chronicle Writer
GROTON — Trailing by a pair of runs and down to their final two outs, the Shepherd Hill Rams rallied for a 5-4 victory on Thursday afternoon.
Down 4-2 with one out against the Groton-Dunstable Crusaders, it was the top of Shepherd Hill’s lineup that sparked the game-winning rally. Chris LaFortune drew a six-pitch walk and Mick Sullivan followed with a base hit up the middle, putting the potential tying run on base and bringing DH Chris Kustigian to the plate as the possible go-ahead run. Kustigian singled into rightfield, scoring LaFortune from second base and pushing Sullivan to third base. Crusaders firstbaseman Riley Curran couldn’t handle the cut off throw, resulting in Sullivan aggressively bolting for home plate and sliding in just ahead of the throw to tie the game, allowing Kustigian to take second base on the throw to the plate. Crusaders pitcher Brendan Ferrari came back to strike out cleanup hitter Anthony D’Elia, looking to keep the game knotted up with the go-ahead run in scoring position. Evan Kokocinski delivered with a clutch single up the middle to score Kustigian, giving the Rams its first lead since the top of the first inning.
After fanning two in his first inning of work, reliever Jake Schafer slammed the door shut in the bottom of the seventh inning by striking out the side on 11 pitches. Schafer struck out the final five batters of the game, facing six in a two-inning stint en route to being credited with the win. Rams starter Nate Carty worked the first five innings, limiting the Crusaders to four runs, only one of which was earned, while giving up six hits and a walk. Carty fanned two in the game.
For Groton-Dunstable, Ferrari took the loss while striking out eight in his complete game effort. He allowed five runs on 10 hits and two walks over seven innings.
Kokocinski collected a walk and three hits to pace the Shepherd Hill offense, driving in a pair of runs as well. LaFortune and Sullivan each collected a pair of hits, including a double for LaFortune. Crusaders leadoff hitter Doug Tompkins went 2-for-3 with a walk, two runs scored and three RBI. Ethan Hillenberg had one hit and scored twice for Groton-Dunstable.
Shepherd Hill improves to 4-5 on the year with the victory, while the Crusaders fall to 4-3.