BENNINGTON --In the end, it came down to the pitch count.
After Mount Anthony Union High School's Matt Upright and Mill River's Lincoln Pritchard duked it out for six innings, with Upright's Patriots holding a slender one-run lead, Upright was pulled in the seventh after maxing out his pitch total at 120.
Mill River capitalized, tacking three runs on reliever Brody Farnum to take the lead. Pritchard, still below the 120 limit, came back for the bottom of the seventh and allowed only one run to help his Minutemen to a come-from-behind 4-3 win on Friday afternoon.
"I was really pleased with my pitcher's performance today," said Mill River coach Gary MacDonald. "He only had one pitch left [at the end]. We came through and played some good baseball today. Both teams did. It was a well-pitched game on both sides."
Pritchard scattered four hits on the game with 12 strikeouts, eight of them looking, and four walks. Upright allowed only two hits over his six innings with nine strikeouts and six walks.
"Matt ran out of pitches, so he had to come out. It is what it is," said MAU coach Walt Parmenter. "We didn't hit today. We had four hits. We left too many men on base. We struck out 12 times, and that was a killer."
Upright, though, had to work himself out of trouble in the first inning in order to keep his numbers down on the game.
Mill River opened the game with a single by Quinn Kimball, and a pair of walks by Upright loaded the bases with only one out.
But Upright, a senior, responded by striking out the next two batters to get out of the inning with the score still 0-0.
"He bore right down and showed his senior leadership out there," Parmenter said. "He was able to work out of the jam, and he went from there. He got progressively better and better."
In the bottom of the first, Upright gave himself a one-run cushion when he hit a single up the middle that scored Ellis Baker, who had gotten on base with a walk.
In the bottom of the second, MAU added another run with a bit of skill on the basepaths.
Carson Cushman got on base with a walk and progressed over to third base on a passed ball and a groundout. After Shelby Coon struck out to make it two outs in the inning, Marcus LaFlamme drew a walk to put runners on the corners. With Baker up to bat, LaFlamme stole second base, just beating the throw from Dan Blanchard, allowing Cushman to come home.
Mill River got on the board in the third inning, with Ben Upton scoring Pat Mumford on an RBI-single to make it 2-1.
The score would stay at 2-1 through the next three-and-a-half innings, although MAU was able to put runners in scoring position in third, fifth, and sixth innings. On all three occasions, though, Pritchard got the strikeout he needed to end the inning.
"We were definitely cold, our bats weren't alive," Baker said. "We didn't have our bats in the game."
Parmenter agreed, saying that "the kids were too selective up there. They are looking for that one good pitch, they have to goo up there swinging."
And Mill River would make MAU pay for the lack of cuts in the seventh.
With Farnum on in relief, Zach Allen started the inning with a single to left field, then Kimball followed up with a hit that just got through the infield. Ryan Darling then hit a sacrifice single to bring in Allen, Mumford followed up with a doubled to deep center field that plated Darling, and the Patriot's lone error of the game allowed Mumford to come around and make it 4-2.
"[Upright] did a great job. The second guy, he was a little bit slower and we were able to catch up with him," MacDonald said. "This was the first time we have seen a pitcher on the mound, we got out on the field yesterday. Our guys were behind some pitches today that they won't be later in the year."
In the bottom of the seventh, Upright pulled one run back on an RBI double that plated Baker, but with two outs already Ryan Latif grounded out to short to end the game.
"We only had one error today. I was pleased [with our defensive effort], but it hurt, obviously," Parmenter said. "We'll just pick ourselves up next week."
Upright finished 2-4 at the plate as did Shea Mooney, who hit a ground-rule double that was initially ruled as a home run in the third inning.
Kimball led the Minutemen at the plate, going 2-3 with a walk and a run scored.
Pritchard is 1-0 on the year on the mound, while Farnum falls to 0-1 after Upright got the no decision.
Mill River moves to 1-0 on the year while MAU falls to 0-1. The Patriots return to the diamond on Wednesday at Bellows Falls.