By MICHAEL LETENDRE
PLAINVILLE – It’s never easy to open the scholastic baseball season with a road date against a perennial tough opponent.
But on Thursday, April 5, the outfit from Bristol Eastern traveled to Plainville High School for a Central Connecticut Conference, Southern Patriot Division encounter.
And it was a big day for Eastern’s Jagger Duquette and Josh Nohilly.
Duquette got the job done on the mound while Nohilly did it from the plate as the Lancers defeated Plainville 12-4.
It was the opening game for both squads.
Duquette had an excellent start to the campaign, giving up four hits, four runs (three earned), walking one, and striking out five as he pitched into the sixth inning.
And then offensively, Nohilly dropped a ball over the wall for a grand slam as his sixth inning shot was added insurance for Eastern.
The Lancers generated seven hits in the game and took advantage of six Plainville errors, five walks, and two wild pitches – leading to those 12 runs.
Eastern had seven hits on the day, three by Mac Goulet who rambled up two singles, a double, and three RBI.
For Plainville, the squad zipped up just four hits off Eastern pitching.
The Lancers played a solid game defensively but the Blue Devils drew first blood in the game.
Plainville took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first as Brady Callahan started it all off.
Duquette hit Callahan, the leadoff batter, with his second pitch of the game.
Callahan quickly stole second, and scored on a single up the middle by Nate Michalek, the startling and losing pitcher for Plainville, to make it 1-0.
However, in the top of third frame, the Lancers took control of the contest for good.
In the third, Eastern snared a 2-1 lead – scoring those two runs on just one hit.
John McPhee and Matt D’Amato both reached base on infield errors and from there, a two-run, two-out single by James Dauphinee, gave the visitors a one-run edge.
The Lancers then added two additional runs in the top of the fourth frame.
An infield single by McPhee and a walk to D’Amato put two runners on and both moved up a base via a passed ball.
They both scored on Mac Goulet’s two-out single to left and quickly, Plainville was in a 4-1 hole.
Duquette was cruising, retiring the side in order in the second and third innings on just 20 pitches.
In the Plainville fourth, Michalek opened the bottom of the inning with a walk, took second on a wild pitch, and then went to third on a Dylan Morrell’s single.
And when Morrell went to steal second base, the catcher’s throw slipped into the outfield, scoring Michalek, to trim the deficit in half, 4-2.
From there, Tyler St.Onge followed up with a double to deep center to score Morrell and Plainville cut the Eastern lead to 4-3.
After a scoreless fifth, the top of the sixth proved disastrous for the home team.
The Lancers put up a half-dozen runs to turn the game into a blowout.
The bases were quickly loaded as a hit batter, followed by two infield errors loaded up the bases with no outs.
Michalek got the first out of the inning on a fielder’s choice as D’Amato’s grounder to third forced Dave Bernier at the plate.
Goulet’s pop fly single to left quickly scored McPhee to make it a 5-3 contest.
Fradette then scored on a wild pitch for the sixth run and following a walk to Shane Caron to re-load the bases, Nohilly had the biggest hit of the showdown.
He smashed a long grand slam to right center to give the Lancers an imposing 10-3 lead.
Eastern added its final two runs of the game in the seventh, scoring on a wild pitch and a bases loaded walk to Dauphinee as the visitor’s push reached 12-3.
A double by Michalek and an error gave Plainville its fourth run in the sixth inning but at 12-4, the Blue Devils still trailed big.
Cory Fradette then relieved Duquette, getting the final two outs of the inning.
In the Plainville seventh, following two walks by Fradette, Nohilly came on and recorded the final two outs of the showdown to close things out, preserving the Lancers’ 12-4 victory.
NOTES…Speaking of the three team division of Eastern, Bristol Central and Plainville, there could be a vote to finally bring Lewis Mills into the CCC fold according to a story by the Republican American. Mills would slot into the Patriot Division as the fourth team. The proposal was never voted on the first time around so it still can be ratified as soon as this week.