Fitchburg falters in loss to Narragansett – Sentinel & Enterprise

The Fitchburg 12U All-Stars fell to Narragansett on Saturday. (Sentinel & Enterprise / Michael James LeClair)

FITCHBURG — Playing their final home game of the Massachusetts District 5 Cal Ripken Tournament, the Fitchburg 12U All-Stars welcomed the Narragansett All-Stars to Herman Bourque Field on Saturday morning.

Through their first two games, offense has been a struggle for Fitchburg, which had not scored a run in games against Ashburnham/Westminster and Lunenburg.

The good news for Fitchburg was it was able to record its first runs of the tournament on Saturday. The bad news for the Red Raiders was that it wasn’t enough, as Narragansett cruised to a 14-2 victory.

Narragansett, whose first game of pool play on Thursday evening was suspended due to weather, is 1-0 in pool play, while Fitchburg falls to 0-3.

“You don’t like to lose, but I thought there were positives today,” said Fitchburg head coach Jeff Fanion. “We swung the bats and made contact. We had some line-drive outs today.”

A total of five teams are competing for the D5 crown with the top two teams qualifying for the Massachusetts State Tournament. In addition to Fitchburg and Narragansett, this year’s D5 tournament includes North Middlesex, Ash/West and Lunenburg.

The first inning was a difficult one for Fitchburg in its first two games as it surrendered 20 combined runs. On Saturday, Gansett added to that total as it plated a pair of runs off Fitchburg starting pitcher Yadrian Merced thanks to a two-run home run by Calvin Hahhila.

“Narragansett is a really good hitting team and they showed it today,” said Fanion. “I thought Yadrian pitched well against a strong hitting lineup.”

The Warriors added an unearned run in the top of the second on an error by the Fitchburg short stop to make it a 3-0 ballgame after an inning and a half.

In the home half of the second, Fitchburg’s Lucas Garcia broke through with the team’s first run when he blasted a solo home run over the left-center field fence to cut the deficit to 3-1. Fitchburg’s McKynlie Murphy followed by drawing a walk but would eventually be thrown at attempting to steal third base.

“That was a big moment for Lucas Garcia, hitting his first homerun,” said Fanion. “It was a nice line drive to left-center. We put the bat on the ball, but unfortunately the end result didn’t go our way.”

The Red Raiders managed eight base runners, as Narragansett pitching would issue six walks and commit one fielding error.

Narragansett tacked on four more runs in the fourth inning before adding two more in the fifth to grab control and open a 9-1 advantage. Hahhila blasted his second homer of the game in the fourth, a two-run shot, to highlight the frame.

Fitchburg’s final run of the game came in the fifth inning when the hosts generated a run with some heads up baserunning. With one out, Murphy drew a walk before stealing second base and taking third on a wild pitch. Murphy raced home when Oliver Leger reached on a Narragansett error to make it a 9-2 contest.

The guests added four more insurance runs in the sixth to conclude the scoring in this one.

Merced (nine strikeouts) lasted five and a third innings on the hill for Fitchburg before reaching his pitch limit. Eli Gates (one strikeout) came on in relief of Merced and recorded the final two outs in the top of the sixth inning.

Fitchburg’s day wasn’t finished as the team returned to action hours later on Saturday evening when it traveled to Bartelson Field in Pepperell to play its fourth and final pool play game as it took on host North Middlesex.


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