TEWKSBURY – With two outs, runners on first and second and clinging out to a one-run lead in the bottom of the seventh, Tewksbury Memorial High School senior baseball pitcher David Miller had the tough task of not only trying to nail down the win, but needed to get the future University of Maryland player Ryan Murphy in order to do it.
With rain coming down on a cold, drizzly Monday afternoon, Miller got ahead of Murphy 0-2 before trying to get him to chase some pitches down in the dirt. That didn't happen and the count went to 2-2. After a foul ball, Miller was able to get the tall-left-handed hitter to hit a ground ball to second base, where senior Kyle Zervas at first couldn't get a handle of it, before recovering and throwing the ball to first to record the final out to preserve the thrilling 1-0 victory over Billerica held at Strong Memorial Field.
Former TMHS All-Scholastic pitcher and current Colorado Rockies pitcher Scott Oberg was on-hand for the game and through out the ceremonial first pitch before meeting the two teams at home plate for a group photo.
With the win, coupled with the 4-2 victory over Haverhill on Saturday, the Redmen are now 3-8 on the season.
"We were trying to keep the (Billerica hitters) off balance a little bit," said Redmen head coach Kirk Monbleau. "We knew (that Murphy) likes to hit the ball to all fields. We didn't want to give him anything in his wheelhouse, so he mixed up his speeds and he had enough command and made a nice pitch to get that last groundout."
Miller came on with two outs and a runner at second base in the top of the sixth inning, relieving starter Tyler Keough, who was terrific going 6.2 shut out innings, including giving up five hits, just one walk and struck out three to get the win. He gave up a lead-off double to Kyler MacDonald. Miller then came in and got Mike Smack to fly out to center fielder Chad Boschetti to end the threat.
Then in the seventh, Miler struck out Alberto Carrento, walked Mike Bragg, who then moved to second on a comebacker to Miller, before walking Matt Lewitzsky, setting up the drama for Murphy.
"Two (wins) in a row now," said Monbleau. "We're always trying to win league games, every single one of them is important. Today we played a team that we can hang win, we got real good solid pitching and we got the win."
Keough was very effective on the mound, changing speeds and pitching to contact. He was also immense in several situations, getting an unassisted double play by senior shortstop Matt Perron to end the first, getting out of a bases loaded jam in the second, leaving a runner at third in the third inning, before giving up just two hits over his last 12 batters before coming out.
"Every game that Tyler has pitched this year he has kept us in it, and a lot of one-run games. He had a one-run game against Chelmsford and then another one today. He pitched really strong today," said Monbleau.
Tewksbury scored the lone run of the game in the bottom of the first. After back-to-back singles by Keough and Perron, Mike Polimeno walked to load the bases. Two batters later, Ryne Rametta hit a sacrifice fly to right to score Keough from third.
Tewksbury managed just three hits in the entire game, Perron had two and Keough the other. Batters three through nine unfortunately finished 0-for-14 with a walk and the sacrifice fly.
On Saturday, the Redmen doubled up on Haverhill, 4-2. Riley Frost tossed six strong innings to get the win and Nolan Timmons came in for the save, tossing a scoreless seventh. Offensively, Tewksbury scored two in the top of the second on back-to-back RBI doubles by Garrett Kingston and Rob Evangelista.
In the top of the fifth, Perron delivered a two-run single to drive in Boschetti, before Tewksbury scored on an error in the fifth for the fourth and final run. Haverhill scored two in the bottom of the fifth but the Redmen held on for the win.
On Friday, Tewksbury had a 4-0 lead after the first inning against Dracut, but eventually fell 6-5. Evangelista had a big two-run single in the top of the first.
Tewksbury faced Haverhill for the second time in five days on Wednesday with results not known as of presstime and then will host Chelmsford, one of top teams in the state, on Friday, and the team's seniors will be honored before the game.
On Monday and Tuesday, Tewksbury will participate in the Spinners Cup at LeLacheur Park in Lowell, first taking on Methuen in the first round on Monday at 5:00 pm, and depending on the outcome of that game, Tewksbury will face either Lowell or North Andover at 5 or 7 pm on Tuesday, giving the team four games in a six-day span.