NASHUA, NH – Trinity High erupted for seven runs in the fourth inning, en route to a 13-5 win over Nashua South, Tuesday afternoon at venerable Holman Stadium.
Jonah Voveris went 3-for-4 and drove in three runs to lead the offense for the Pioneers, who evened their early-season record at 2-2.
In all, Trinity pounded out 11 hits in support of starting pitcher Sean Kuhloff, who went five strong innings to pick up the victory. Kuhloff gave up three runs (just one of which was earned) on five hits. He walked three, struck out four and helped his own cause with a pair of RBI.
“We ask (Kuhloff) to give us five every time out. That’s the plan. Get us five and he’ll give us a chance to win,” said Trinity Head Coach Matt Bouchard. “We told him we gotta get five and we’ll go from there and he got us our five today.”
Kuhloff’s only real stumble came in the bottom of the third. Nashua South’s Devin Sawyer sliced a one-out triple down the right field line and scored the first run of the game on an RBI double by Kosay Tanaka. Later in the inning, Tanaka moved to third on a passed ball and scored when Kuhloff was called for a balk, making it 2-0.
Meanwhile, Trinity was having its hands full against Nahua South starter Grant McCubrey. The 6-5, 215-pound senior cruised through the first three innings, striking out seven and making the Pioneers appear overmatched. But in the fourth, the flow of the game took a stunning turn. McCubrey abruptly lost command of the strike zone, putting the first four Trinity batters on base via three walks and a hit batsman, with a wild pitch throw in for good measure.
An RBI single to right by sophomore Tristan Hasselbach (2-for-4, 2 runs) tied the game, 2-2. Ben Canny then laid down a perfect squeeze bunt, scoring Voveris to give the Pioneers a 3-2 lead. Canny reached on the play, thanks to a throwing error, to keep the bases loaded.
Two batters later, another well-executed bunt by Brendan Heppler plated freshman Oliver Service. In all, the Pioneers successfully executed three squeeze plays, highlighting the type of “small ball” offense Bouchard says will be essential for Trinity to be successful this season.
“We have to play to our strengths,” said Bouchard. “We’re not gonna hit the ball out of the ballpark. We’ve told the kids, we’ve got to put the ball in play, make contact, attack on the bases. We faced an unbelievable pitcher today, so their job was just to work counts and do what they can to move the guys around the bases.”
With two out and the bases loaded in the fourth, Thomas Campbell came on in relief for Nashua South (0-3) but ran into the same control problems. A bases loaded walk and a wild pitch brought home two more runs before Voveris capped the rally with an RBI single to left to push Trinity’s lead to 7-2.
Nashua South was able to pull to within 8-5 in the bottom of the sixth with two unearned runs against reliever Will Nardone. The damage might have been worse but for a pair of baserunning gaffes by the Panthers. With runners on first and third and no one out, Hasselbach, Trinity’s sophomore catcher, made an errant throw while trying to pick the runner off third. The throw skittered into foul territory down the left field line, allowing one run to score. But Stevens tried to come all the way around to score from first on the play and was gunned down at the plate by left fielder Brendan Heppler.
Later in the inning, with Sawyer on third base, a wild pitch hit the backstop squarely and bounced right back to Hasselbach. Sawyer was caught halfway down the third base line and was easily thrown out trying to retreat to the base.
Trinity put the game away with a five-run outburst in the top of the seventh. Voveris struck the big blow with a two-run single to center.
Trinity is scheduled to be back in action Wednesday (April 19) at home against Spaulding.