PEABODY — First-year Bishop Fenwick baseball coach Kevin Canty wanted to play the best to help his young team realize what it takes to attain that level.
Yesterday, the Crusaders ran into a seasoned North Andover squad, led by hard-throwing senior left-hander Ty Leavitt, who kept his high school record perfect in a 10-2 victory for the Scarlet Knights.
"We knew North Andover was a very good team," said Canty, his Crusaders now 4-3. "They played in the Division 2 championship last year. We tried to schedule the best teams we could to let the kids see the kind of programs that we want to be. Their pitcher did an excellent job today."
Leavitt allowed only one run on three hits in five innings of work for the Knights. He struck out six and only walked one. In the battle of southpaws, Fenwick senior captain Kevin Church didn't have his best stuff, but battled it out for five innings before giving way to Tommy Parsons.
No. 9 hitter Rick O'Connor collected three hits off Church and drove in four runs. His double down the left field line put the Knights on the board in the second inning, and he later scored on a bloop single by Mike Borzi. In his next trip to the plate, O'Connor singled to knock in two more and came around to score in the fifth after getting a hit up the middle.
"Church struggled today, and he threw 109 pitches in five innings," Canty said. "He wasn't at his best, but give North Andover credit because that's a very good hitting team right down the lineup, and they hang in there with two strikes on them. They made (Church) throw a lot of extra pitches by fouling so many off, and defensively we played timidly.
Nick Bona got the Crusaders on the board in the bottom of the second inning when he ripped a triple to left field, scoring Cam Borrelli, who had reached on an error. But Bona was stranded on third when Leavitt bore down to strike out the next two batters.
"Leavitt has never lost in his high school career," said Knights coach Todd Dulin, his team now 3-1. "Our catcher Brandon Walsh is our No. 1 pitcher because he throws 91 (mph), but Leavitt is right up there. He kept the Fenwick batters off balance by mixing up his pitches. He had a good change-up, and then got his curve ball going.
"He is real tough to hit when that's working, and Walsh called an excellent game. O'Connor had some big hits for us in the No. 9 spot. He's a good hitter but has been struggling lately, which is why I put him there."
The Knights scored in every inning but the first when they stranded two men in scoring position. Fenwick couldn't muster much offense against Leavitt, who retired eight of the last nine batters he faced before being relieved by Dan Rivet in the sixth.
The Crusaders picked up a run in the seventh when Bona singled and later scored on a ground out by Nick Fanjoy. Bona led Fenwick with two hits while Mike Cipriani, Mike MacKenzie, Gianni Esposito and James Traversy had one apiece.