NORTH EASTHAM – The good times keep on rolling for the Nauset Regional High School baseball team.
After getting off to a quick start in last Friday’s victory over Barnstable, Nauset needed to find a new way to stay unbeaten during Monday’s home test against St. John Paul II.
The visiting Lions garnered three separate leads, though the Warriors managed to overcome them all. In the end, Nauset hung on for a 10-9 victory after sophomore Brady Miller pitched a scoreless seventh inning to earn the save for the Warriors.
“We’re certainly pleased to pull it out,” Nauset coach Kevin Curtin said after his team improved to 3-0. “We had a big win on Friday but they haven’t been in this type of game. They jumped out early the other day, so this was the first time they’ve had to come from behind.”
Unlike Friday’s 12-9 slugfest victory over Barnstable, in which senior Kurt Thomas stuck out seven batters during the five innings he pitched and junior Noah Clarke went 5 for 5 at the plate, the Warriors didn’t have the luxury of playing with a lead for much of Monday’s contest.
The 2-0 advantage Nauset built in the bottom half of the first inning was immediately erased the first time JP II took the plate. In all, the visitors built 3-2, 7-4 and 8-5 advantages over the Warriors.
Nauset took control once and for all in the bottom of the fifth after senior Ethan Keeney erased an 8-7 deficit with a game-tying RBI triple that plated senior Chase Wiley with one out in the frame. Following back-to-back walks to senior Wylder Hart and Thomas, Keeney scored on an infield error on a grounder hit by Clarke. One batter later, a wild pitch by JP II reliever Hunter Alten brought Hart home and gave Nauset a 10-8 lead.
That’s when things got interesting.
Cam Lakatos began the top of the sixth for JP II (2-1) with a leadoff double off Warriors’ senior reliever Charlie Gardner then scored to make it 10-9 when a throw to second base—an attempt to catch Will Levesque stealing—sailed into center field. It looked as though the Lions would tie the game at 10 moments later when Andrew Vaillancourt hit a line drive into right.
Nauset junior Cam Beer sprinted to his left and dove to catch Vaillancourt’s hit for the second out of the inning and Levesque ran home for the tying run. However, once Beer threw the ball back into the infield, the Warriors appealed that Levesque tagged up and left third base early to run home—an appeal they ultimately won for the third out of the inning.
“It was a big play,” Curtin said of the sequence, which preserved the Warriors’ lead.
“It was well hit, so I had to really run for it,” Beer said of his catch. “I didn’t think I was going to get to it, but I made an attempt and luckily I caught it. I felt like I contributed to the win, which is obviously good.”
“We see Cam in practice every day—he’s a great athlete out there,” Curtin continued. “Usually, it’s him making a catch and making a throw. In this case, he just covered the ground and I think (St. John Paul II) just didn’t anticipate he was going to get there.”
Minutes later, Miller closed out the Warriors’ third win of the season. Gardner earned the victory after replacing Clarke, who took over for junior starter Max Dio with one out in the top of the third.
Gardner said he was pleased with his pitching performance, especially considering it was his first appearance in a game this season.
“It felt really good,” said Gardner, an Eastham resident. “This was my first outing of the year, so it felt good to come out and have a little bit of success.”
At the plate, Keeney finished 3 for 4 with a single, double and a triple in addition to a walk. He had two RBIs and scored three runs of his own.
Although the Warriors didn’t play their cleanest game of the season, Keeney, a Harwich resident, said Monday’s victory showcased Nauset’s character and proved the team is capable of overcoming adversity.
“We had a few mess-ups in the field—it wasn’t out best defensive game in the field at all,” Keeney said. “But speaking to the character of our guys, we’re real resilient and we always come back as a team. Nobody ever got too down, we just picked each other up.”