By Ed Niser
TOWNSEND -- The Camo-clad North Middlesex ball club failed to find an answer to the puzzle Westminster's ace Derrick Andrews was dealing.
Andrews scattered four hits over seven solid innings, while whiffing 14 batters, as Westminster defeated North Middlesex 2-0 in Townsend.
North Middlesex starter and former Patriot standout, Andrew Jena, struck out four batsmen over six innings of work, surrendering two unearned runs in a losing effort.
North Middlesex head coach Ken Brown said that his team experienced difficulty catching up to Andrews' fastball.
"Some of our younger players struggled with that velocity," Brown said. "Half of our kids are college kids who haven't played for a year. They are just catching up with a guy who is on his game."
Jena retired Westminster in order in the top half of the first. Jena struck out his adversary Andrews on a fastball down and away for the second out of the inning. Brett Smith squirted a dribbler to second and Matt Brown flipped to second for the final out.
In the bottom half of the inning, North Middlesex had a hard time connecting with the darts Andrews was shooting. Brown shellacked a single past the diving shortstop for North Middlesex's first hit of the afternoon. Andrews settled in and fanned Nick Barry and Brandon Borneman to emerge from the first unscathed.
Jena worked his way out of a small jam in the second inning, after an error allowed shortstop Isaac Marchant to reach. He utilized his brisk pick-off move to gun down Marchant as he bolted for second. Jena then proceeded to ring up Westminster first baseman Ben Sowders on a knee-buckling curve ball for the second out of the inning.
James Hojnoski lifted a Jena off-speed offering and third baseman Tyler Godin camped out underneath to retire the side. Andrews mowed through the middle of the North Middlesex order in the second and upped his strikeout total to six.
Westminster accrued two singles in the third; none were bigger than the 2 RBI poke from Andrews. Andrews smoked a Jena fastball through the right side into right field, which allowed Steve Foster and Tim Bouchard to scurry across and score to make it 2-0.
North Middlesex continued to struggle at the dish in the third inning. Sam Ineson walked to start the inning, but Andrews peppered the strike zone and struck out three in a row to keep the North Middlesex bats dormant.
The North Middlesex defense shined through in the fourth inning as it sent the Westminster batters back to the dugout in order.
Sowders stroked what seemed to be a surefire blooper into right field, but Layton Moylan galloped in and made the sliding catch for the second out of the inning. Jena got Zack Battesh to squib one back to the hill to end the frame. Brown reached on a bobbled hot-shot to start the inning.
North Middlesex tried its hand at a little small ball as coach Brown gave Mike Wolfgang the bunt sign, and he placed it perfectly. Wolfgang plopped the ball in the middle of the third base line, allowing Kevin Costello to advance to second. Andrews downed Godin, Moylan and Ineson in order to end the inning.
Andrews popped the mitt of Smith on a fastball to Jena. Smith squeezed the pitch and
The defense kept Westminster's offense from scoring for the remainder of the game, as Ineson came on to pitch in the seventh. Ineson walked one and struck out Jim Angelopoulous and Steve Foster to end the seventh.
Brown said he was pleased with the performance of his pitchers.
"Andrew Jena is a class act," the coach said. "He just goes out there and pitches, doesn't get rattled and just sticks with his game. Sam Ineson was looking really solid. He has thrown a couple of innings to close out both games un-scored-on. I think he has a bright future with N.M. if he keeps working on his game."
Borneman,Wolfgang, Brown and Barry all tallied hits for North Middlesex. N.M. is back in action Sunday at 5:30 at Quabbin.