By Nick Curcuru
---- — DANVERS — Heading into the 2014 season, Gloucester first year manager Bryan Lafata labeled Danvers as the cream of the crop in the Northeastern Conference Small; the measuring stick for teams with conference title aspirations.
The Fishermen got their first crack at the perennial NEC power yesterday at Twi Field, and came away knowing they can be a factor in this race, too.
Peter Clark picked up his second complete game in as many starts allowing one unearned run over seven innings to out-duel Danvers’ Raf Tylus in a 2-1 Fishermen win.
“It was a good, early season game,” Lafata said. “Pete is just a horse. He wants the ball in big games and today he took it, threw strikes and kept us in the game the whole way. You can’t ask much more from him as our No. 3 hitter and top of the rotation pitcher.”
The game did have the early season feel that Lafata mentioned — both the Fishermen (4-1) and Falcons (5-2) were sloppy at times. All three runs in the contest were unearned and Gloucester hit into a pair of double-plays and left 10 men on base.
In the fourth and fifth innings the Fishermen had five hits and six base-runners but could not come away with a run. Some of it was due to mental errors, some of it was due to Tylus’ clutch pitching as he kept the Falcons in the game when things could have gotten ugly.
Danvers, on the other hand, put the tying run on base three times in the final four innings, including the tying run on third base with one out in the final frame, but Clark was able to induce a fly-out to shallow center and a strike out looking to finish the game off.
“We didn’t play as clean as we can,” Danvers head coach Roger Day said. “There were a couple of plays that we didn’t make that we have to make and we didn’t make any big plays. Gloucester swings it better than us so we have to find more ways to score.”
It was the first NEC loss of the year for Danvers, which is 5-2 overall and 2-1 in league play. The Fishermen are 3-1 in league play, 4-1 overall.
“Danvers is the cream of the crop because they don’t usually beat themselves,” Lafata said. “We almost did at the end with a couple of errors in the field, and on the bases and they almost came back to beat us. I think both teams feel like they didn’t capitalize on plenty of opportunities but it was a good game between two teams that a lot of people think will finish near the top of the conference”
Gloucester scored its only two runs of the contest in the third inning. Lukas McRobb led off with a double to center off of starter Ryan Kelleher, and was then moved over to third on a ground ball in the infield. Day then made the switch to Tylus with the top of Gloucester’s order coming up, the same move he made in the second inning, and Tylus induced a doubleplay to get out of the inning.
This time Gloucester’s Curtis Quinn hit a hard hit grounder on the infield that the Falcons’ shortstop could not handle to bring McRobb in from third and give Gloucester a 1-0 lead. Two batters later Clark delivered a double into the gap in left center to bring home Quinn and make it 2-0 Fishermen.
Tylus went on to finish the contest and did not allow a run over the final four innings of play.
“(Day) utilized those two guys well going back and forth and we didn’t get really comfortable up there,” Lafata said. “They didn’t let us get into a rhythm and when we started to build something up it stopped.”
Danvers got a run back in the bottom of the fourth inning when Danny Lynch scored on a squibbed ball up the first base line with two outs to make it 2-1.
The rest of the game, however, was all about missed opportunities and good pitching. Both Clark and Tylus made sure no more runs crossed the plate.
“It’s tough because we are lacking RBI guys in our lineup,” Day said. “We had some opportunities today but we didn’t do enough to bring any runs in.”