By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL — In recent City Series battles, one of the three baseball programs within the city limits usually triumphed over all.
But its 2019 and there was more than one sheriff in this town.
Simply refusing to go quietly into the night, the McCabe-Waters Astros staved off elimination on Monday, Aug. 26 by defeating the undefeated Dodgers of Forestville by a 3-0 push from Breen Field on Mix Street.
With the win by the Astros, each squad carried one loss — setting up a winner-take-all challenge on Thursday, Aug. 29 between the two teams.
The Astros (2-1 in City Series play) scored two runs in the top of the third inning and simply never looked back.
“That was awesome,” said Astros manager Matt Pirog. “They executed perfectly tonight. They did the small things the correct way. They were patient at the plate, they forced walks, they had some nice bunts. Joey John had probably the biggest hit of the game for us.”
“They were very disciplined today. They did everything perfectly, what we asked them to do.”
Astros pitcher Mason Allen was excellent, throwing a complete game, two-hit gem while posting nine strikeouts to keep his team in contention.
“Mason Allen, what a tremendous job he did,” said Dodgers manager Clay Roberts. “He did an awesome job, he did a great job. What are you going to do? You’ve got to tip your hat. The Astros deserve that win. They made the plays, they got the timely hitting when it was time and that’s all you can say.”
Allen also had two hits for the Astros while Lincoln Bashaw added a single and a walk.
Dodgers’ pitcher Aiden Lopez drew a tough loss but certainly had one heck of City Series on the mound.
He fell to 2-1 over City Series play but had been nothing less than sensational, striking out every side he’s faced — wrangling up 30 strikeouts in 10 innings worth of action.
Lopez and Tyler Ryan each tallied hits for Forestville.
To open the game, Allen battled off eight pitches, finally dropping a one-hopper into left that was misplayed and the runner got into scoring position at second base.
A passed ball put Allen on third base and a wild pitch looked to have scored the runner; but he was called back for leaving the bag too early.
Lopez ending up throwing 25 pitches and tallied three K’s and while McCabe-Waters failed to score, the pitch count was already high for the Dodgers’ chucker.
“That first inning, we just got on him,” said Allen of Lopez. “We worked his pitch count the whole game.”
On the flip side, Allen was sharp on the hill, fanning two batters, as the teams went into the second inning without the benefit of a score.
“[I] just had to keep it positive the whole game,” said Allen. “You can’t just give up. You just have to come back with a strike [after throwing a ball].”
With one out, Landon Sisson drew a full count walk and advanced to second via wild pitch.
And when Kaden Dragon also earned a base-on-balls, there were two on and Lopez got a visit from assistant coach Jimmy Deschaine to help cool down the situation.
It worked because Lopez fanned the eighth and ninth batters in order as the Dodgers went into the bottom of the second frame looking to score.
“Again, I have to tip my cap to Lopez,” said Pirog. “Lopez threw outstanding again today.”
Forestville’s Nick Zygiel was hit-by-pitch with one out and Xavier Kalanquin’s shot to left took a funny hop passed the Astros’ third baseman to put two on.
Billy Zabawa then scooped in a grounder by Donnie Rodriguez, tagged third base and nearly got the assist on a double play to second. But the throw was just off the mark.
Allen then registered his fourth strikeout to end the second tilt and the scoreless stalemate continued into the third.
“Mason was outstanding,” said Pirog. “That’s the best I’ve seen him throw in a long time. Every time he’s gone out, he’s thrown great, but that was big to throw a complete game against that team and to shut them down with the hitters they have.”
The Astros finally drew first blood in the third as Allen launched a blooper into left field and hustled to second to get into scoring position.
Then, on a Chase Dauphinee grounder back to the pitcher, the ball was thrown away at first base as Allen scored to make it a 1-0 game.
And off a wild pitch, Dauphinee — who ended up at third base on the miscue — sprinted home, just sneaking under a Lopez tag, as it became a 2-0 game off the unearned runs.
Bashaw walked with one out but was stranded at first base with McCabe-Waters in command at 2-0 through three.
Lopez then skied a ball into left the fielder misplayed and with one gone, the Dodgers had a runner in scoring position.
The Forestville pitcher was hit in the hand during his at-bat but toughed it out at second base.
Rivera-Martinez then flew out to center and Lopez tagged up to third base, looking to score.
But Dante DePass popped out to the pitcher and the Astros’ 2-0 edge lasted into the fourth stanza.
Zygiel came into throw for the Dodgers in the fourth and substitute Joey John might have had the hit of the game — smashing a double to the gap in right.
And then a sweet sacrifice bunt by Ben Bergoin advanced the runner to third with one out.
Mike Demers later singled up the middle to plate John. Quickly, it was a 3-0 game in the Astros’ favor.
Allen then grounded out to the second baseman while Dauphinee walked as two runners were on again for McCabe-Waters.
But off Zygiel’s first strikeout out of the afternoon, the Dodgers were trailing 3-0.
Allen was simply cruising on the mound, earning his sixth strikeout through four innings as he was no-hitting the Dodgers to that point of the engagement.
Bashaw singled to open the top of the fifth and Sisson walked to place runners on first and second.
But a strikeout and grounder ended the Astros’ fifth with the Dodgers looking to sort out the surging Allen.
Tyler Ryan finally got a hit for the Dodgers, flipping a single up the middle, and the home team had something brewing.
And with two gone, Lopez slammed a single to left to put two on as the tying runner was in the batter’s box.
But when Rivera-Martinez flew out to right, McCabe-Waters sidestepped a huge hole — keeping to a 3-0 contest.
The Dodgers Kaden Paghense made one heck of a sliding catch in center field for the first out of the sixth inning to rob Demers of another hit.
The Astros ended up going down in order. But the Dodgers had to score three chances in the bottom of the sixth in to send the game into extra innings.
Allen was looking for the complete game shutout. Demers started it off by swiping a DePass line drive out of the air for the first out.
Landon Levesque followed up by making a over-the-head catch on a Kaden Paghense offering as the defense was giving Allen everything it had.
“We had outstanding defense,” said Pirog. “That catch by Levesque, I didn’t see it but I heard it was amazing. That was big. Mike Demers coming up big with that catch in that inning, we made the plays we were supposed to make.”
Allen ended the contest with strikeout number nine — setting up one more game to decide the City Series championship in 2019 via the 3-0 victory.
“I can’t be prouder of the kids today,” said Pirog. “They did everything that we asked them to do. We found another way to win today.”
The loss for the Dodgers set up one final challenge against the Astros and it was a contest Forestville was looking forward to.
“We played well,” said Roberts. “We just ran into a buzz saw. They were better tonight. We will come back and hopefully play better and get a win on Wednesday night.”