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    Monday, June 24, 2024

    Fitch graduate Scherer delivers game-winning hit in Coast Guard’s victory

    Coast Guard Academy’s Kael Godshalk dives back to first base during Tuesday’s baseball game against Springfield College in New London. Coast Guard won 7-6 in 12 innings on an RBI single by sophomore pinch hitter Tate Scherer, a Fitch High graduate. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Coast Guard Academy’s Sean Harmon moves to a ball during Tuesday’s game against Springfield College. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Coast Guard Academy’s Nathan Stafford, middle, celebrates a run with teammates during Tuesday’s game against Springfield College. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Coast Guard Academy’s Richard Barkley rounds third base during Tuesday’s game against Springfield College. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    New London — Nearly three and a half hours into Tuesday’s game, sophomore Tate Scherer came off the bench, shook off the bone-chilling cold and stepped to the plate.

    Coast Guard Academy badly needed Scherer to deliver as a pinch-hitter, not only to end the stare down with Springfield but also to secure an important New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference victory.

    Scherer came through in the clutch in only his seventh at-bat this season, lining a game-winning RBI single to center field to give Coast Guard a dramatic 7-6 victory in the bottom of the 12th inning.

    “We were all freezing in the dugout and cold,” said Scherer, a Fitch High School graduate. “Whenever my name is called, I’m just ready to help the team win. I was looking for the first fastball that I got and to just drive it up the middle. … It worked out.”

    It was another special moment in what’s been a terrific season for the Bears, who’ve won seven of their last eight games.

    Coast Guard has taken a giant step forward from last season’s 14-18 team that failed to qualify for the NEWMAC tournament.

    The Bears (19-8, 9-2) are in contention for the conference regular-season title, residing a half-game behind first-place Salve Regina. They’re pulling it off with a young team that relies heavily on underclassmen and has only three seniors.

    “We’ve had contributions from a lot of places,” Coast Guard coach Brian Casey said. “We’ve had guys from different age groups and different levels of experience contribute. We’ve had some guys that have been really consistent, too, which helps.

    “Our guys have been really resilient and tough all year. … If you’re going to be a good team over the course of 40 games, you’ve got to know how to win in different games. We weren’t very good today but we were good in spots when we needed to be.”

    It took some late-game heroics from Scherer and stellar relief pitching from sophomore RJ Priddy and freshman Ryan Karman (3-0) to shake Springfield (14-17, 1-1). The pair combined to allow one run in the final seven innings.

    “Priddy and Karman out of the bullpen were tremendous to give us that opportunity for our offense to get some at-bats stacked together, which I think was the difference,” Casey said.

    Coast Guard overcame a two-run deficit in the eighth, tying the score at 6-all on junior Wyatt Duthu’s double and junior Parker Madden’s fielder’s choice.

    Both teams struggled to produce scoring threats until the 12th.

    Karman, who allowed two hits, struck out six and walked one in four innings, wiggled out of a first and second with nobody out jam in the top of the 12th.

    With the sun sinking in the sky and temperature dropping, the Bears went to work.

    Senior Charles Red, who had a team-best four hits, led off with an opposite-field single and advanced to second on senior John Carroll’s sacrifice bunt.

    Casey, who told Scherer to be prepared to pinch-hit a few innings earlier, sent the sophomore to the plate.

    “Ton of credit to Tate for staying ready,” Casey said. “We told him to be ready to hit probably two innings before. Hopefully, in that time, he got his mind right and paid attention to how that guy was pitching. That kid was really tough.

    “He had a really good at-bat. He laid off a couple of really tight pitches away and got one over the plate on a 3-1 count and he was able to hit the ball up the middle. … He got that big hit when we needed it.”

    After Red scored the winning run, the Bears rushed out of the dugout to mob Scherer near first base.

    “It’s the best feeling ever,” Scherer said. “I love those guys. It’s a special team. One of the best teams I’ve ever been on.”

    g.keefe@theday.com

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