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MVRHS baseball

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Hits were hard to come by in the Tuesday home loss.

Pitcher Henry Gallagher came in on relief. – Photos by Michael Cummo

The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School boys baseball team dropped a tightly played, well-pitched contest to the visiting Blackstone Valley Beavers before a sparse, school-vacation-week gathering Tuesday. The game was played under sunny skies, a far cry from the cold winds and dark clouds that forced postponement of the original Patriots’ Day morning start.

Tuesday’s loss leaves the Vineyarders at 3 and 3 on the season. They jumped right back into action Wednesday in Norwell, where they participated in the fourth annual Russ Downes Tournament along with Westwood, Latin Academy, and host Norwell. MV lost to Westwood on Wednesday.

Pitcher’s duel

Starting pitcher Tucker McNeely throws a strike.
Starting pitcher Tucker McNeely throws a strike.

The loyal fans who turned out Tuesday were treated to a pitchers’ duel, featuring the Vineyarders’ Tucker McNeeley and Austin LaBastie of the Beavers. Relying mainly on their fastballs, with enough breaking balls to keep hitters honest, both hurlers dominated in the early going. Rallies amounted to the occasional walk, followed by attempts to move the runner around the bases.

In the first inning, MV’s leadoff hitter Noah Cooperrider reached third compliments of a walk and two steals; that was as far as he got. In the second, the Beavers’ leadoff hitter Colin Fiorentino reached on an error, advanced to third on two groundouts, then was thrown out trying to steal home, McNeeley firing to catcher Jonas Lukowitz for the tag.

In the third, Blackstone managed a run without hitting the ball out of the infield. The Beavers recorded the first of their two hits on the day, a dribbler in front of the plate. After two infield outs, that runner came home on a wild pitch.

MV-Baseball_Aksel-Cooperridder.JPGThe game turned in the fifth inning. In the top of the frame, the Beavers took advantage of several Vineyard miscues to push two runs across. Blackstone’s Andrew Carroll delivered the first run, unearned, with a solid base hit. A sacrifice fly followed, giving the visitors‘ their eventual 3-0 margin.

MV came right back in the bottom of the inning. DH Andrew Wiley led off with a scorching single to left. With one out Jacob Cardoza lined a ball in the same direction. But the would-be rally, and the inning, ended quickly as the ball was caught and Wiley was doubled up at first.

Left-hander Henry Gallagher took over for the hard-luck McNeeley to start the sixth inning, and pitched two shutout innings. As for LaBastie, he regained his early dominance and retired the last six Vineyard batters in order. The final numbers for the Blackstone senior pitcher: no runs, two hits, seven strikeouts.

For the Vineyarders, this was a frustrating game on several counts. They were facing Austin LaBastie for the second time in a week and, according to Head Coach Gary Simmons, hoped to fare better: “Unfortunately, he was just as tough as last time. He throws strikes and does nothing to hurt himself.” Assistant Coach Olsen Houghton added, “He’s very fast. We couldn’t put two hits together, and you can’t win that way.”

In addition, MV was coming off an impressive, confidence-building 2-1 win over an excellent Coyle Cassidy team, and hoped to carry that momentum into their second Blackstone game. Austin LaBastie made that difficult.

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Vineyard starter Henry Gallagher in mid-windup Tuesday vs. Coyle Cassidy. — Photo by Pete Sprayregan

The Martha’s Vineyard boys varsity baseball team hosted Eastern Athletic Conference rival Coyle and Cassidy of Taunton on a windy and brisk Tuesday afternoon at Vineyard Baseball Park. The team played hard from the first pitch until the last out but ultimately could not generate any offense against a formidable opponent and lost, 10-0. The Warriors starting pitcher, David Capobianco, a tall southpaw with a commanding fastball and deceptive change-up, pitched a four-hit complete game shutout.

The Vineyarders countered with Henry Gallagher, a scrappy southpaw as well. Gallagher pitched a decent first inning, surrendering only one run but was responsible for two runs in the second. In the bottom of the second inning with the Warriors in front, 3-0, the Vineyard bats started to come alive. Tucker McNeely led off with a deep drive to center that was caught by the streaking Coyle centerfielder. Jacob Cardoza then singled to right and stole second. With a man on first, and Capobianco operating from the stretch, the Coyle pitcher fired to first base on a pickoff attempt after which the entire Vineyard bench called for a balk. Vineyard skipper Gary Simmons, coaching at third base, asked for a conference with the umpires to determine whether or not the pitcher did in fact balk. The two umpires met briefly behind home plate, ultimately ruling that Capobianco had not and play soon resumed. Unfortunately for the Vineyard, the rally was short-lived. Capobianco struck out Henry Gallagher and Emerson Mahoney flared a pop-out to the first baseman.

Henry Gallagher took the mound again for the third inning. On his first pitch, the Coyle batter laced a liner back to the mound, striking the lefty hard in the right leg. Gallagher, unfazed, stuck with the play, tracked down the loose ball and fired a strike to first base for the out, much to the delight of his teammates and fans. Gallagher then retired the next batter on a pop-up to the mound.

Coyle then singled twice and walked to load the bases, but Gallagher induced the Warriors to fly out to left field, ending the threat.

After a quiet home half of the third, Gallagher took the mound to start the fourth, recording one out on a popup to Tim Roberts at first. The next three Warriors all reached base through an error and two singles. With runners on second and third and Coyle up, 4-0, Aksel Cooperrider came on in relief of Gallagher. The Warriors added a two-run single before Cooperrider closed out the inning on a strikeout swinging and a strikeout looking.

Despite trailing early into the contest, the Vineyard team remained focused, trying to scrape and crawl its way back into the game, but Capobianco proved to be too much to handle on this chilly day at the ballpark.

The team will have a chance for revenge Friday when they travel to Taunton for a rematch. The first pitch is scheduled for 3:30 pm.

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Vineyard reliever Kevin Cleary fires to the plate in the sixth inning Monday against Bishop Feehan. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

Bishop Feehan broke open a close game with three runs over the final two innings to beat Martha’s Vineyard, 6-2, in an Eastern Athletic Conference contest Monday in Oak Bluffs.

Vineyard starter Tim Roberts allowed just two hits and two earned runs in five solid innings of work. He also went 2 for 3 at the plate. Emerson Mahoney and Mike Mussell had RBI singles in the third inning for the Vineyarders, who fell to 3-7 overall and 0-3 in the EAC.