WEST GROTON -- As the Nashua River Valley Softball League season draws closer to the playoffs, some familiar sights are popping up.
Defending champion Devens Grille is cruising to the top-seed with a potent lineup, but who will challenge them is still up in the air. The team with the best chance is the young Townsend Pats squad, which has a solid mix of timely hitting, solid defense and good pitching. That trio was on display last Tuesday night as Townsend came back from a 4-0 deficit and then held off a late H&V charge in extra innings to claim a 9-8 victory.
After a scoreless top of the first, H&V pushed two runs across in the home half of the frame. Lou Testa reached on a fielder's choice and advanced to third on a K.J. Churchill double. Jon Gendron then laced a double to left to plate both runs. Pats' starter Pete Debreceni limited the damage, getting a pair of ground outs to end the threat and keep it a 2-0 game.
H&V added single runs in the second and third to double their lead. Rob Barboza singled and scored on a two-out double by Tim Churchill in the second while K.J. Churchill tripled and scored on a double by Gendron in the third as H&V now held a 4-0 advantage after three innings of play.
In the top of the fourth, Townsend finally scratched together a run off Frank Tarr. With one out, Nate Doty launched a triple off the fence in left field and scored on a Dan Rivett's groundout to make it 4-1.
The Pats came up with a
Townsend grabbed their first lead of the night with a single run in the top of the sixth. Jon Hawthorne led off the inning with a walk before advancing to second on a passed ball. Joe Escabi then singled to center, plating Hawthorne to make it 5-4. Tarr worked out of a jam, stranding Escabi at third by getting a pop out and fly out to end the inning.
Facing a deficit for the first time off the night, H&V came up with a single run with two outs in the bottom of the inning. Barboza doubled to right and Cory Bazillion brought him home with a line-drive single up the middle to make it 5-5.
Both pitchers stranded runners in scoring position in the seventh to send the game to extra innings. The Pats came up with four runs in the top of the eighth to grab the lead. Mike O'Grady (single), Debreceni (single) and Doty (two-run sacrifice fly) provided the production as Townsend took a 9-5 lead to the bottom of the eighth.
Kenny Norris started the H&V comeback with a long two-run home run to right field to cut the lead in half. Greg Hennessey singled, went to third on a Bazillion single and scored when Dave Skoczylas singled to left. Tim Churchill then hit a sinking line drive to right that hit off Escabi's glove. Bazillion tried to score from second on the play, but Escabi made a perfect relay throw to Doty at short, who gunned down Bazillion at the plate, keyed by a nice tag by O'Grady to keep it a one-run game. Debreceni then closed things out by getting a game-ending groundout as the Pats claimed the victory.
O'Grady paced the Pats offense with a triple, single, walk, two runs scored and two runs-batted-in. Debreceni added two singles, a run scored and two RBI while picking up the win on the hill. Doty chipped in a triple, run scored and two RBI while Hawthorne singled, walked and scored two runs.
Gendron led H&V with three doubles and three RBI. Tim Churchill (double, two singles and an RBI) and Bazillion (three singles and an RBI) also had three hits each. K.J. Churchill added a triple, double and two runs scored while Barboza had a double, single and two runs scored.