HARWICH – The rivalry between the Monomoy Sharks and the St. John Paul Lions was evident on April 12 when the Sharks hosted the Lions in baseball action. Though the home team fell 2-1 at Whitehouse Field, they did all they could to keep the visitor's score low.
“Yesterday was a real pitcher's duel,” said Monomoy head coach Steve Wilson, adding that this season his team is working with just two regular starting pitchers, Joe Cottle and Jamie Routhier. While the situation has been challenging, Wilson said it has allowed his players the chance to show their strengths.
Such was the case against SJP2 when the time came for Cottle to step down, giving way to reliever Eli Nickerson, who pitched the game's final innings.
“This was the second game that Eli has come in,” said Wilson. “He shut them down and got out of the inning bases loaded, nobody out, then proceeded to shut them down in the seventh as well.”
It was Monomoy that scored the first run of the game in the fourth when a savvy Brandon Willis seized the opportunity to run the bases. After walking to first, Willis moved to second on a sacrifice hit, then capitalized on a fielding move from SJP that let Willis reach third. Then, with two outs on the board, Monomoy catcher Sean Gould stepped to the plate and swung into a single to bring Willis home.
Unfortunately for the Sharks, their opponents pushed across the tying run in the next inning, with the game-winner coming in the sixth.
“We had good team defense and ran the bases well,” said Wilson of the Sharks, while also giving a nod to SJP pitcher Devan Harrison. “Harrison can pitch well. For us to be competitive against SJP, this was an outstanding pitching performance by Joe and by Eli.”
Two days prior Monomoy took on Sturgis East in a hard-fought win that saw an unexpected star shine. When starting pitcher Jamie Routhier stepped out, senior captain Matt Veary took the mound in his first-ever pitching debut, striking out four and allowing just two hits in a little more than four innings.
“That was huge,” Wilson said. “That's what high school sports is all about. It was so exciting to see.”
Wilson said the experience had an impact on each of his players.
“I think this is a learning experience for the kids,” he said. “Here's a perfect example of someone who's never pitched at all. Shuts them down for the win and the save. That's what high school baseball should be about. Opportunity. We don't have a lot of players but all the players can try out for different positions.”
Monomoy ended up snagging a 5-4 victory against East after falling behind 3-0 in the early innings. With the bases loaded, it looked as if the Storm would earn a few more runs, but Veary had other plans and immediately retired the side to end the third inning.
Then the Shark bats lit up in the fourth when they pushed across three runs, with Kiernan Murphy leading the way. Next to connect with the ball was Griffen Handler, who pulled off a squeeze play to bring in Sean Gould for the 5-3 Monomoy lead.
Wilson also gave kudos to the team for its performance against Rising Tide on April 5.
“That was an amazing game, too, because kids really played well in that game,” he said. “We won the game with back-to-back suicide squeezes from Amaker and Gould, a 6-5 win.”
Next up for the Sharks is a trip to South Yarmouth to take on D-Y April 16 at 11 a.m., with their next home game set for April 23 against Bristol Plymouth starting at 4 p.m.