AP NEWS

McCarthy’s Gem Leads Leominster Past Fitchburg

April 17, 2019

LEOMINSTER -- If anyone had any doubts about sophomore Evan McCarthy being the ace-in-waiting of the Leominster baseball team, those doubts have been put to bed in just seven days’ time.

After blanking Nashoba Regional for six innings last Wednesday afternoon, the right-hander did the same with archival Fitchburg in town on Tuesday as he yielded two hits on 94 pitches, fanning five and walking one over six innings of work en route to a 10-0 Blue Devil win over the Red Raiders at historic Doyle Field.

The result puts both sides at 2-1, with Leominster headed to Groton-Dunstable Regional Wednesday at 11 a.m. Fitchburg hosts crosstown rival St. Bernard’s behind the high school at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

McCarthy utilized his fastball and breaking ball to great effect Tuesday: He consistently got ahead of FHS hitters (15 first-pitch strikes to 22 hitters) and only went to a three-ball count three times.

And through five frames, he had only faced two hitters over the minimum, with Jamison Carroll and Devin LeBlanc finding space for Fitchburg’s hits.

McCarthy ran into a little difficulty in the sixth, as an error coupled with a fielder’s choice and a walk put two Red Raiders on base, but he managed to get out of it with a short pop fly to Zach DelGiudace at first to put a bow on his second consecutive solid outing.

“He’s impressive,” Leominster skipper Rich Barnaby said. “For him to be an underclassman with so much poise, it’s impressive. He uses two pitches, he stays ahead in the count, throws strikes, barely walks anyone, and he just trusts his defense.”

“He pitched a very good game,” Fitchburg Hall of Fame coach Ray Cosenza said. “He did a good job, threw strikes, and got ahead of hitters. They made some plays behind him.

“On the whole, this isn’t who we are: We play much better defense, usually, so hopefully this is an anomaly. It happens, but we really kicked it around today.”

Leominster jumped out to a 3-0 lead against its archrival in the top of the first, doing it all with two outs.

Assumption College-bound senior Danny Garcia started with an 0-2, stand-up double to deep right-center, before UConn-bound senior Pat Gallagher lofted a double to center, a ball that the Fitchburg center fielder lost in the bright sun.

Garcia scored on the hit, and the rout was on.

FHS starting pitcher Brandon Dubuque would battle DelGiudace for a full-count walk to put runners at first and third, before Andrew LeBlanc doubled in both runners, giving LHS a 3-0 lead.

“It shows that even with two outs, the guys grinded away with some good at-bats,” Barnaby said, “and then put the ball in play hard and got some good hits.”

It stayed that way until the fourth.

DelGiudace led off with a first-pitch, stand-up double to right, before he went to third on LeBlanc’s fly ball to center.

Nate Smith’s grounder to Zach Scott at second brought him in, and Leominster had a 4-0 lead.

Leominster sent 11 hitters to the plate in the fifth, with two of its six runs that frame charged to Dubuque.

Dylan Sousa led off with a stand-up double down the right-field line, and he went to third on Tommy Halliwell’s bunt single. Garcia’s sacrifice fly to right brought in Sousa to give the Devils a 5-0 lead.

That was it for Dubuque (4 1-3 IP, K, 8 H, BB), who gave way for Gabriel Johnson.

“He battled,” Cosenza said of the senior. “He made some mistakes at 0-2 that they jumped on, they got ahold of some things, but he deserved better. We didn’t make plays behind him.”

“He had a lot of poise and stayed ahead in the count, he did a good job,” Barnaby said.

Johnson yielded five runs and was charged for four, allowing two hits.