HARWICH – It was about as good a first impression as a team could make.
Pitching, hitting, fielding and running — the Monomoy baseball team did everything well during Monday’s lopsided 10-2 season-opening victory over Cape Cod Tech at Whitehouse Field at Monomoy Regional High School.
“We made all the routine plays,” Monomoy coach Steve Porter said. “We hit the ball when it counted and we threw strikes when we needed to, so it was a good win for our first game of the season.”
Nobody threw more strikes and hit when it counted quite like Andrew Clifford, a junior from Barnstable who gave the Sharks a 3-0 lead with a three-run double with the bases loaded in the bottom of the first inning.
“It felt great,” Clifford said. “It was my first good hit that I’ve had in a while, so it felt good to break out of my slump.”
Clifford also was stellar on the mound; he allowed two runs (one earned), surrendered six walks and struck out nine in six innings of work before handing the ball over to reliever Declan Dyer, who struck out two and didn’t allow a hit while pitching the seventh inning.
Across the diamond, it was the first step for a Crusaders squad that is experienced despite being young.
“I call them young veterans,” Cape Tech coach Chuck Myrbeck. “We started six freshmen and two sophomores last year, so we’re trying to make the next step and limit the bad innings. Today we really weren’t throwing the ball over the plate.”
Cape Tech’s four pitchers — Jack Rhodes, Josh Wiggin, Eric Emond and Jack Bucar — combined to walk 11 Monomoy batters. But Myrbeck said he’s optimistic the strikes will come.
“I think our pitching is going to come around,” he said. “I really do. I think they’re ready to take the next step.”
As much as the Sharks benefited from free passes, the team also made the most of its plate appearances with runners on base.
Sophomore Sean Davock, a shortstop from Harwich, was among those who came through — he plated Lucas Tambolleo with an RBI single to make it 5-0 in the third, then brought Wesley Ulrich home with another RBI single in the fourth. Davock’s second RBI broke the game open and gave Monomoy a 9-0 lead. Moments later, the Sharks went ahead 10-0 after Tambolleo scored on a fielder’s choice hit by Charlie Seif.
“It feels good to start off on a good note,” Davock said.
The sophomore didn’t only contribute in the batter’s box, though. One of Monomoy’s biggest highlights of the game came in the field during the top of the fourth when Cape Tech sophomore Aidan Choukri drove a line drive to the left field fence.
Tambolleo chased the ball down at the fence and quickly threw it back toward the infield where he found his cutoff man, Davock, waiting in the shallow outfield. Davock didn’t hesitate when he caught the ball and turned and fired a perfect throw to third base, where John Michael Canto awaited to make the tag on Choukri for the second out of the inning.
“Getting that relay from the outfield felt really good,” said Davock.
Davock is hardly the only youngster in the Monomoy lineup. Freshmen Finn Hyora (center field) and Casey Huse (catcher) both play prominent positions, similar to Davock and Seif, a sophomore first baseman.
Porter said Monday’s victory will help the entire team — especially the underclassmen — gain confidence.
“I think it builds a lot of confidence,” the coach said. “We have some young kids on our team that are getting their first taste of varsity experience, so getting some confidence before we jump into our league schedule is a great start for us.”
Monomoy’s only blemish came in the top of the fifth when Cape Tech scored both of its runs after Clifford walked three batters during the frame.
The key going forward, according to Porter, will be continuing to play mistake-free baseball while the pitchers execute on the mound.
“The key is going to be making the routine plays and throwing strikes,” he said. “We have three or four good pitchers and a deep pitching staff, so as long as they continue to throw strikes and we make the plays in the field that we should, I think our bats will come around and we’ll be OK.”
Email Brad Joyal at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @BradJoyal