The Pinkerton Academy baseball squad’s bats were a bit less than sizzling last week, but good defense and strong pitching helped the skilled and determined Astros to consecutive tight wins over Keene and rival Londonderry during that span to advance to a strong 8-3 on the season.
The Astros claimed the first of their two slim victories in Keene last Wednesday, May 3, with starting pitcher Asa Runge earning his first varsity pitching victory with relief help from two fellow hurlers on the way to a 2-0 success.
Runge went five innings and allowed the only hit the host Blackbirds managed, striking out seven batters and walking three on the way to the win. Derek Hiscox pitched a scoreless sixth and Matt Albetski earned his fourth save of the season by hurling a scoreless seventh.
The PA offense tallied 11 hits but only scored twice, plating single runs in the third and seventh frames.
Runge and Brian Sutton drove in the runs, each lacing a double. Sutton and Connor Jenkins both bashed three hits and Runge and Matt Clark each notched two.
The Astros got more masterful pitching work in their 2-1 nipping of Londonderry in Beeman Trophy play in Derry the next afternoon, with David Unkles going five strong frames and collecting the victory.
The hosts claimed both of their runs on three hits and one costly error in the bottom half of the fourth frame, with Londonderry slicing their 2-0 deficit in half in the top of the fifth but being held scoreless the rest of the way.
The Lancers, for their part, also got an impressive and gutsy pitching performance from lefty Anthony Pirolli, who went all six innings in which his team was in the field allowing just four hits while striking out a batter and walking one.
Lefty hurlers Unkles and Pirolli and their defenses reigned supreme in the first two innings, with no hits being produced until the top of the third (two by Pinkerton) and no runs getting plated until that important bottom half of the fourth.
In that key inning, Connor Jenkins led off for PA with a single, and he moved to second on an error and to third on a single by Sutton. With the bases loaded and nobody out, Jenkins scored on a base hit by Sean Muller to make it a 1-0 contest, and a moment later Mike Jellison sprinted home from third base on a double play by the LHS defense.
The Lancers trimmed the PA lead down to 2-1 in the next half inning when Jake Bolduc led off with a single and, after a bit of a wait, scored on a two-out infield single from Nate Sullivan.
Londonderry then went down 1-2-3 against the Pinkerton relievers in the sixth and seventh innings and ended up absorbing the 2-1 loss, their second of the season to the rival Astros.
“We’re not getting the offense I know we can produce, but I think as long as we keep getting strong defense and pitching we’ll be okay,” said PA coach Steve Campo. “And I think the offense is going to come.”
Regarding the strong mound-work of Unkles – who struck out two batters and walked just one while allowing only four hits – coach Campo stated, “David has just been fantastic. I think he’s 4-0 now, and he has done a nice job for us.”
The Astros then bounded into this week looking at a Monday contest in Manchester against a Memorial Crusaders’ crew which was well under the .500 mark at 2-5 coming in.
The Astros didn’t exactly tear the cover off the baseball in their 3-0 besting of Memorial, but the PA crew did enough to win behind some excellent pitching.
Hurlers Rich Marique (six innings, seven strikeouts) and Albetski (one inning) combined to hold the Crusaders to just two hits while the PA offense got six, with Norm Kerman lacing two of them and Asa Runge and Jacob McGill each driving in a run.