AYER- The start to the 2013 season has been a rocky one for the Panthers, who have seen their fair share of early leads slip away.
Larter had good command of the strike zone as he struck out five, and walked one batter in the Panthers' first win of the season Monday, when they downed Murdock 6-3 at home.
Ayer-Shirley was led at the plate by a two-for-three 2 RBI day from junior center fielder Alex Walker, and a three-for-four 1 RBI showing by right fielder Luke Snyder.
Panthers' head coach Scott Callanan said that the Panthers' season starts now. "We are not going to rest on just one win," said Callanan. "We are going to start our season now. We have had four tough losses, and four you can just throw away. A couple breaks here and there it is a completely different season right now."
Murdock catcher, Andrew Polcari roped a one out single into center field, but he was left stranded on the bases. Larter settled in and retired Lary Agnelli on a pop out to short and then struck out Tim Enright on an off-speed pitch to end the inning.
In the bottom half of the inning, Walker reached on a screamer that dropped into right center field for a single.
Walker would later come across and score on a passed ball to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead. Murdock starter Tyler Perry retired Snyder on a ground out, and caught Larter looking to end the inning. Larter made quick work of the first two batters in the inning, getting both Perry, and Justin Smith to ground out to end
Smith blistered a fastball deep in the hole at third, but Mike Tonelli showed off his arm, and gunned Smith out at first by a half step. Brandon Lucier ripped a two-out single to right field, but was left on base as Larter caused Santiago to fly out to left field to end the inning.
The Panthers went down in order in the second. Murdock's lone base-runner in the second inning came off a walk to Trevor Allen. Larter battled back and shut down Polcari, and Agnelli for the final outs of the inning.
Alex Calabrese squirted single up the middle to start the inning, and would later score on a Sac-fly by Walker to center to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead. Ayer-Shirley would tack on another run on an error, when Tonelli came across to score to make it 3-0.
Larter grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning. In the top of the fourth, Larter allowed a pair of hits to Enright, and an RBI bunt single by Justin Smith. Smith's bunt screeched to a halt on the first-base line, which allowed pinch runner Steven Ellis to come across and score to cut the Panthers' lead to 3-1.
First baseman Jake Hannon was beaned to begin the inning, and would later score on an RBI single to left field by Calabrese.
Walker brought home the Panthers' second run of the frame on an RBI single to right center to plate Joey Holmes, who reached on a double to center field.
Ayer-Shirley carried a 4-1 lead going into the fifth inning. Murdock would get two back in the fifth. Agnelli dropped a two RBI single in right field to plate Allen and Kevin Suchoski, who both reached on singles.
Larter recovered and struck out back-to-back Blue Devils to end the fifth. Larter caught Enright looking on a nasty curve ball that nestled on the outside corner for the second out, and then got Perry to flail on a fastball to end the inning.
The Panthers clung to a 5-3 lead going into the bottom of the fifth. Perry battled out of a bases-loaded jam unscathed. The Panthers were hoping the defense would keep them in the game,and they did.
Ayer-Shirley retired the Blue Devils one-two-three in the sixth. Snyder walloped an RBI double to center field to plate Baldino from third, and give the Panthers a 6-3 lead.
Murdock battled valiantly in the seventh inning, but was sent packing when Snyder snagged a Polcari line drive, and then hosed Suchowski at second for the game ending double play. Ayer-Shirley's offense ripped eight hits, and Larter gave up eight in the win.
"Our season is not over," said Callanan. "We are going to continue to work, and build for the future."