Schooners working to break through
Plymouth, Mass. — Mystic is clinging to the silver linings in its New England Collegiate Baseball League opening playoff game loss.
The Schooners scored two runs against winning pitcher Thomas Jankins, who had allowed only two earned runs this season.
They received some terrific pitching and played solid defense in the first game of their best-of-three Southern Division semifinal series on Monday at Forges Field.
They just couldn't find a way to beat Plymouth, losing 4-2. It was their sixth loss in seven meetings this season with the NECBL's best team.
"We hit the ball well and played good baseball," said Dennis Long, Mystic's pitching coach. "The beauty of baseball is we've got another day to play. … We like our chances (today) at home."
Mystic will try to keep its season alive tonight in game two starting at 6:05 p.m. at Fitch High School in Groton.
The Schooners will be without manager Phil Orbe who was ejected in top of the sixth inning while arguing an interference call against Mystic's Keith Klebart.
Klebart was called out after running in front of third baseman John Adams, who was fielding a groundball.
After being ejected by the third base umpire, an upset Orbe reluctantly left the field. Long took over and will be in charge tonight.
"I didn't swear at him and I didn't raise my voice," Orbe said. "I asked him what happened on the play. He really didn't have an answer. … It was a little quick, one of the quicker ones that I've seen in my life."
Nick Ruppert accounted for Mystic's only runs, lining a two-run home run over the right field fence with nobody out in the eighth to cut the deficit to 4-2. It was his fourth home run of the season.
Mystic (23-20) kept the rally going, as Klebart drew a walk to chase Jankins, who came in at 5-0 with a 0.41 earned run average. Jankins, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound right-hander, plays his college baseball at Quinnipiac.
Plymouth has a stockpile of talented pitchers to turn to at any time. The Pilgrims (32-11) own the top staff, posting a league-best 2.35 earned run average.
Reliever Zac Houston (Mississippi State) entered the game. Dan Hoy smashed a hard one-hopper right at second baseman Thomas Roulis who started a double play. It was another case of a Schooner hitter making good contact without a positive result.
"We were hitting balls hard and the pitchers were pounding the zone and getting after it," Ruppert said. "If we keep doing that, I think things are going to start going our way. We've just got to keep playing hard. We have the talent to beat these guys."
Mystic starter Michael Concato pitched fairly well, allowing only one run through five innings.
But Michael Martin and Vincent Guglietti opened the sixth with consecutive singles and Matt Walsh's sacrifice fly made it 2-0. When Concato walked the next batter, Long brought in Frank Trimarco. Logan Koch delivered a two-out, two-run single for a 4-0 edge.
Only four Schooners managed hits, with Ruppert, Zach Weigel and Lou Ianotti finishing with two apiece. Mystic was outhit 10-7.
Mystic must find a way to solve Plymouth's pitching to stay alive. The Schooners have not scored more than four runs in any of the seven meetings.
"These guys have had our number a little bit this season," Ruppert said. "We beat them once and we'd like to beat them two more times and keep this ship going."
Nolan Long (1-3, 3.96), a former Waterford standout, will start for Mystic tonight in game two. Plymouth will go with Nicholas Berger (4-0, 0.75), who already has beaten the Schooners three times this season.
"He's really good," Dennis Long said of Berger (Northeastern). "We've got to find a way to get some runs and not make mistakes. We've got to play our A game."
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