TOWNSEND - The Fitchburg Red Sox downed defending Central Mass. Over 40 league champion, Townsend, 7-1, at North Middlesex High School Sunday afternoon, behind a stellar pitching performance by starter Ken Brown of Ashby.
The southpaw surrendered one run over six innings, while striking out six. Fitchburg used a three run fourth inning to take the lead, and they never looked back.
"I think both teams played really hard," said Townsend Astros player manager Leo LeClair. "The difference in the game was they made the key plays, and we didn't make enough of the key plays. Kenny has been one of the top pitchers in our league for the last five years. Any time we face him, we know it is going to be a battle."
In a late minute change of venue from Fuller Field in Clinton, Fitchburg served as the home team. Townsend failed to get anything going offensively in the first, as the southpaw retired the first three batters of the game in order.
Fitchburg did not fare much better against Townsend starter Chris Dube in the home half of the inning. Armour sent the Red Sox back to the pine in order with three consecutive groundouts.
The first hit of the game would not come until the bottom of the second inning, when Mark Smith connected on a one-out single into center field. Townsend third baseman Ron Pelletier made a stellar play on a line-drive by Gregg Picucci.
Ron Pelletier instinctively snared the surefire base-hit in his mitt for the second out of the second. Dube escaped the second unscathed, as Smith and Dwain Denmark, who walked earlier in the inning, were left stranded.
Dube led off the Townsend third with a slicing single to center field. Dan Considine reached on a full-count walk. Brown settled down and retired the side to escape the third unscathed.
The Fitchburg offense went to work in the bottom half of the inning, as nine-hole hitter Dave Garber peppered a single up the middle. Garber would later come across to score on a one-out RBI smash to left field by Mike Rhodes.
Leading 1-0 heading into the fourth, the Astros used a little two-out magic kick-started by the smooth stroke of their skipper LeClair. LaClair pulled a beautiful single down the third base line for a single, which brought across Pat Miele, who reached on a single to tie the game at 1-1.
Two plunked batters in the bottom half of the fourth by Arthur allowed Fitchburg to blow the game wide open. Charlie Tinschert singled to shallow left field for a single, and later scored on an RBI single by Smith.
The Red Sox picked up two additional runs on a 2 RBI coasting single to right field by Brown that scored Denmark and Craig Maschetti to put Fitchburg up 4-1.
Townsend strung together a pair of singles from Arthur and Ron Pelletier to begin the first inning. Pelletier advanced to second on a wild pitch, and Arthur moved up to third.
Arthur boldly attempted to steal home on a 2-1 pitch to Kevin Pelletier. Arthur bounded down the third base line and attempted to dive over the glove of the catcher Maschetti, but he was caught stealing for the final out of the inning.
Fitchburg scraped together one run in the fifth and two in the sixth inning to extend its lead to 6-1. Vinny Pellecchia's sacrifice fly to center field plated Harvey Krupnick in the fifth. Brown picked up his third RBI of the day on a sacrifice fly to right, which plated Denmark with the final run.
Brown led the Red Sox at the plate going for 1-for-2 with 3 RBI. Townsend was led by LeClair, who went 2-for-3 with an RBI. Fitchburg outhit Townsend 10-8 in the game.
"They got a couple hits and we had a couple hit batsman," said LeClair on the Astros' tough fourth inning. "That's when the wheels started to come off the wagon."
Townsend's next game is Sunday at Doyle Field in Leominster, when they host the Charlton Indians at 10 a.m.