PEABODY — Through the early innings of Saturday’s game between the St. Mary’s and Bishop Fenwick baseball teams, it seemed as though the Spartans would come away with a victory.
St. Mary’s put runners on base in each of the first four innings, forcing Fenwick into jams early and often.
But the Spartans couldn’t cash in, save for a run in the fourth inning, and it cost them. The Crusaders, behind a three-run rally in the sixth, claimed the 4-1 win over the Spartans at Fenwick.
Missed opportunities came back to haunt the Spartans as St. Mary’s left 12 runners on base.
“It was just missed opportunities over and over again,” St. Mary’s coach Derek Dana said. “Bobby (Alcock) pitched great but we kept letting them hang around. I couldn’t have asked much more from Bobby. A home team in a rivalry game, you let a team hang around this is what happens.
“Most of the mistakes we made were mental mistakes,” Dana said. “They weren’t physical mistakes. We’re just not hitting well enough to make those mistakes.”
Fenwick starting pitcher David Furtado went the distance, tallying five strikeouts in his seven innings of work.
“David mixes it up,” Fenwick coach Russ Steeves said. “We can call any pitch at any count. That’s a big difference when you can throw and batters aren’t expecting certain pitches. He hit his spots.”
Despite the loss, Spartans starting pitcher Bobby Alcock also brought his best effort. Alcock threw six innings, allowed three earned runs and fanned 12 Fenwick batters.
“Bobby has had two tough ones late,” Dana said. “We have to battle through that somehow but we have to get him much more support than that. We could’ve knocked them out early several times. We just let them hang around.”
After three scoreless innings, St. Mary’s scored the first run of the afternoon in the top of the fourth. Josh Mateo reached on a Fenwick infield error and Colin Reddy was hit by a pitch, putting Spartans runners on first and second with one out. Another Crusaders error allowed Lee Pacheco to reach base, scoring Mateo for the 1-0 St. Mary’s lead. The Spartans loaded the bases with two outs but Furtado worked his way out of the jam to end the threat.
The Crusaders answered quickly, tying the game at 1-1 in the bottom half of the fourth. Nick Fowler led the inning with a walk and stole second base. Angelo McCullough followed with a sac-bunt attempt that turned into a RBI infield single. Fowler, hustling from second base, scored the tying run to knot the score at 1-1.
“I told the kids that it’s going to be about the fundamentals and executing plays,” Steeves said. “I’m not surprised because we’ve been practicing those things. It’s just about executing and we did a good job at that.”
The game remained tied 1-1 until Fenwick scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth- all with two outs. Tucker Destino drew a walk to start the frame. After Alcock struck out the next two batters, McCullough laced a single. With runners on first and second, Keegan O’Connor hit a 2-RBI double to deep center, plating Destino and McCullough.
“Keegan’s a great leader,” Steeves said. “I know Bobby, he played for me over the summer. That battle was best against best. It was an 11 pitch at-bat. It was a great at-bat and a great pitching duel. It was fun to watch.”
O’Connor scored on a Spartans error to give the Crusaders a 4-1 lead.
Furtado, with the help of a highlight reel catch in centerfield from Fowler, retired the Spartans in order in the top of the seventh to seal Fenwick’s win.
The Spartans fell to 1-3 with the loss, their third consecutive defeat. They visit Nauset Wednesday.
“We just have to keep working,” Dana said. “We’ve been focusing on hitting, baserunning, the whole game. It was nice to get outside and really get some good practices in. We have to take that to gameday. We have to be better competitors.”
Fenwick improved to 2-1 and battles Pentucket Thursday.