CANTON, June 30 – In a pitcher’s duel Thursday night at Bowdoin Field, Lewis Mills’ baseball coach Jesse Darcy came out on top. Darcy struck out 12 and allowed just two hits to help the Bethlehem Plowboys to a 2-0 Tri-State League victory over the Canton Crushers.
Canton countered with Tri-State League rookie Taylor Riley, who allowed just five hits and struck out five. He also picked off two Bethlehem runners at second base.
But Darcy, who played three years of minor league baseball in the Tampa Bay Rays organization from 2007-09, was overpowering. Canton’s Heath Cotton had a towering double that hit the base of the left field fence in the first inning and he was the only Crusher runner to touch second base.
“My fastball has been good and it has some life,” Darcy said. “I’m working to get some more movement (on the ball) as I age. I threw the ball pretty well. It’s been up and down for me this season.”
Plowboys skipper Dan Goscinski said that Darcy frequently gets the assignment against the better teams in the league. “He has been a workhorse for us,” Goscinski said.
Riley did a good job of keeping the Plowboys (11-3) off the scoreboard. “It was one of my best games this year,” Riley said. “I felt good the entire game. The arm soreness is going away.”
Riley doesn’t the overpower speed that Darcy possesses but he knows the game. In the first inning, Bethlehem’s Mike Chiouitti singled and stole second base. But Riley spun around and picked Chiouitti off second base to end the inning.
Riley did it again in the second inning. Bethlehem’s Greg Campbell walked and moved to second on a passed ball. But once again, Riley fired the ball to shortstop Heath Cotton for another pickoff. Canton manager Tom Dubois said that is the tenth runner that Riley has picked off second base in 11 games.
Bethlehem got a runner to third base in the fourth inning. Chiouitti singled with two outs and moved to third base on a two passed balls. But Canton outfielder Jim Spirito made a diving catch on a fading fly ball to right field off the bat of Chris Callahan to end the inning.
The Plowboys took advantage of two errors in the sixth. With one out, Pat McKee hit a ground ball to Canton third baseman Jon Scippa but the throw was wide allowing McKee to reach. The Plowboys replaced McKee with pinch runner Kyle Capaido.
Bethlehem’s Nick Gonio laid down a nice bunt up the third base line. Scippa’s throw to first base got behind first baseman Sean Bahre and Capaido scored from first base for a 1-0 lead. Gonio moved to second on the error and eventually stole third base. He scored when Riley was called for a balk for a 2-0 advantage.
That was more than enough for Darcy. Canton’s Jake Bryant did lead off the bottom of the sixth with a single but Darcy struck out five of the next six Canton batters to secure the win.
“We’re right on the brink,” Riley said. “We just have to get the bats going and score some runs.”
Canton scored just six runs in their first six games – all losses. But since then, the Crushers have scored 19 runs in five games including nine runs in a 9-3 win over Burlington last Sunday.
Cotton and Bryant had hits for Canton. Center fielder Chris Van deBogart had three putouts, tracking down some deep fly balls. Spirito caught three balls in right field, too.
Canton (2-9) returns to action Saturday morning at 10 a.m. at Bowdoin Field when they host the Tri-Town Trojans (7-4). The Trojans blanked Bristol on Thursday night, 7-0 for their fifth straight win.
The Crushers were hoping to earn a spot in the 12-team Tri-State League playoffs this season. But they’ll have to start collecting some additional victories with just six games remaining in the regular season. Southington and Bristol are tied for the 12th spot and they already have five wins each.
After Saturday, no one left on Canton’s schedule has a winning record and four of the five games after Tri-Town will be at Bowdoin Field. It could be the opportunity that Canton needs to push for a playoff spot.
Canton will host Bristol (5-7) on July 7, Amenia, N.Y., (1-7) on July 10 and Southington (5-9) on July 13. Canton plays its final regular season road game at Valley Thunder (1-12) on July 15 and closes out the regular season by hosting East Mountain (1-11) on Sunday, July 17.
Bethlehem 2, Canton 0
Bethlehem (11-3) 000 002 0 – 2-5-1
Canton (2-9) 000 000 0 – 0-2-2
Jesse Darcy and Teddy Gravel; Taylor Riley and Jeff Mulhall; WP: Darcy (3-2); LP: Riley (0-5); 2B: Heath Cotton (C), Kevin McDowell (B); 3B: none; HR: none