Concord’s baseball team couldn’t quite string together hits; it only tallied three the entire game.
But the Raiders didn’t need any more than that, as aggressive base running and dominant pitching secured a 3-2 victory over Hodgson in a tight nine-inning battle Thursday.
“We take a lot of pride in playing all three facets of the game,” said Concord coach Tim Hamberger, whose team was coming off a 5-4 loss to Caesar Rodney on Tuesday. “A lot of people work on the offense and defense, and we make sure that we are very good on the bases – not just with stealing bases, but how we attack on balls that are being hit. Today, that helped us, and it puts us in positions to win games.”
In the ninth inning, Concord’s Kevin Laplante came in to relieve Chuck Brooks, who didn’t allow a hit, and forced a 1-2-3 inning.
In the bottom half of the ninth, Concord’s John McGarvey, who struggled at the plate early, hit a clutch single up the middle with one out. Elijah Davis came in to pinch run for the catcher and reached third after a throwing error while Davis was stealing second.
Laplante faced a tough challenge: coming up to the plate for the first time all afternoon with one out and a runner in scoring position. The junior stepped up and drilled a ball to Hodgson’s shortstop, who was unable to field it cleanly, and brought the game-winning run home.
“It feels good. I just wanted to put it in play to get my teammate to score,” Laplante said. “It was tough, but I know I had to throw strikes, and my team was there to back me up.”
Concord (3-1) took advantage of its opportunities from the very beginning. Maxwell Carney picked up a stolen base and scored first, after Mike Schell put the ball in play and forced an error to give Concord a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first.
Brooks then drove in starting Concord pitcher Jonathan Harris on another Hodgson error to extend the lead to 2-0 in the third. But Hodgson’s bats woke up in the fourth inning.
Tyler Novak earned the Silver Eagles’ first hit of the game with a single shot to left field. Hodgson starting pitcher Nick Sayers helped his cause by lacing a two-out double over the center fielder’s head and scored Novak.
Shawn Pacana followed up with a hard hit to ball that resulted in an error and sent Sayers home to knot the game up at 2. The game stayed scoreless for four frames before Davis’ winning run.
“We just didn’t make routine ground balls when we had to,” Hodgson coach Chris Moxley said. “We didn’t field the ball well, and we knew coming in it was going to be a tough battle. It feels like every time we play them, it’s a nine-inning ball game.”