CLINTON -- Ayer-Shirley ace Kyle Larter turned in a gem on the bump, striking out seven through four innings of work and giving up just one unearned run, but the Panthers couldn't muster any offensive support as they fell to the Galloping' Gaels 4-1.
Joey Holmes plated Jake Hannon in the fourth inning for the Panthers lone run. Larter no-hit Clinton over four innings, but his control started to wane as his outing went on.
"Kyle was fantastic," said head coach Scott Callanan." We probably left him in one more batter than we should have. We were really sloppy in the field on a couple plays, and baserunning, that's where the game was lost."
Clinton sent their dart-throwing righty Kyle Cutler to the hill, and he impressed the home crowd, mixing his pitch selection nicely.
Ayer-Shirley took some time to adjust to Cutler's mechanics, as the tall pitcher finagled the ball over the corners, striking out sophomore shortstop Danny Baldino and senior centerfielder Ryan Coulter to start the game.
Luke Snyder drew a five-pitch walk to give the Panthers their first baserunner of the afternoon. Hannon hit a little cue-shot back to the pitcher, as the Panthers left Snyder stranded at first going into the bottom half of the frame.
Larter started the game with steady
command of his fastball as he baffled both Cutler and Josh Bahnick to start the bottom of the first.
The umpire was calling the high strike, and Larter continued to pepper the ball inside, letter-high, and he was rewarded. Matt McEvily lofted a Larter 12-6 curveball over the head of Holmes in left, and legged out a two-bagger to put the Gaels in business.
Larter paid no mind to McEvily at second and battled back after going down 2-0 in the count to sit down Clinton's third baseman J.C. Perez to retire the side with the score still knotted at 0-0.
Alex Calabrese lead off the second inning, shanked one to the shortstop, and was retired for the first out of the inning. Captain Brian Waite drew a walk as Cutler failed to locate, but he was left stranded on the paths. Cutler rebounded to fan both Chris Patano and Holmes to retire the side.
Larter started the second in a bit of a funk, walking both Donnie Doebeck and Matt Notaro, but he calmed his nerves with a three-pitch strikeout of Jake Hatch.
The Ayer-Shirley hurler received a little bit of help from Jake Hannon as the junior gunned down a stealing Doebeck at third for the second out of the inning.
Larter mowed down Clinton rightfielder Andrew Grady with three straight bullets to end the stanza with the game still scoreless. Cutler made short work of the Panthers lineup, retiring them in order with back-to-back strikeouts of Baldino and Coulter for the second time in three innings
Clinton drew first blood in the bottom half of the third inning, when McEvily ripped a rope that handcuffed Baldino and resulted in a run as Cutler scurried across the dish to give the Gaels a 1-0 lead. Larter worked his way through the remainder of the inning by inducing a groundout by Perez to end the third, as the Panthers trailed 1-0.
Seth Newell broke up Cutler's no-hit bid in the third inning with a firecracker to right field for a single. Hannon would reach on an error, as Doebeck was unable to field the ball cleanly. The Panthers were in business with nobody out, and a runner in scoring position.
Calabrese drew a full-count walk to load the bases. Holmes would then scream a line drive up the middle off the shin of Cutler to score Hannon from third to tie the game at 1-1.
Callanan made the switch for the southpaw Coulter in the bottom half of the fourth, as Larter's day was over after 88 pitches. The Gaels plated three in the fifth inning with RBIs off the bats of Notaro, McEvily and Perez to make it 4-1.
Cutler exited the game in the top of the sixth inning with six strikeouts, allowing just two hits.
Bahnick came on and pitched two hitless innings to pick up the win. Ayer-Shirley outhit the Gales 4-2, but they were unable to string anything together.
"They fought and rallied," said Callanan. "They never gave up. They are trying to make the right plays, and know that they are good enough."