MANCHESTER — They just wanted to keep the line moving. In the second inning of a scoreless game against Burr and Burton, the Mount Anthony baseball team started with three straight base hits.
When the dust settled, 13 Patriots had come to the plate and eight had crossed it, giving starter Ryan O'Neill a lead he didn't relinquish in a 9-3 victory at Dana Thompson Park on Thursday.
"A big lead is good, we were making the plays in the field and [having a big lead] is extra weight lifted off your shoulders," said O'Neill, who threw 93 pitches in a complete game effort. "We had a good defense day today and played the way we should every day."
Noah Normyle, Brody Farnum and Bryce Bush started the inning with hits to load the bases with no one out against BBA starter Jon Iris. After O'Neill struck out looking, MAU freshman Will Shea blooped a single to right to score a run. Iris got Brian Grace to strike out and was close to getting out of the inning minimizing the damage, but Carter Bentley drove in a run on an infield hit, Austin Condo walked and Pat Powers drove in a pair with a ripped base hit to right for a 5-0 lead.
Normyle got his second hit of the frame, driving in another run and BBA coach Ed Lewicki relieved his starter. Iris allowed eight runs in 1 2-3 innings, striking out four and walking two.
Jay McCoy came in and he walked Farnum, while Powers came in on a wild pitch. Bush got his second hit of the inning before McCoy finally got the final out.
"Jon wasn't on today, I gave him the benefit of the doubt to let him get out of it," Lewicki said. "Mentally he wasn't here today. We talked to the guys about preparation, we're in the middle of a streak. Streaks are great but they can make you complacent. Jon's a senior caption and he's pitching from the windup with guys on first and second with two outs."
Staked to a big lead, O'Neill settled in. In the third inning, he gave up three straight hits, a double and then RBI singles by Griff Stalcup and Cody Roberts to cut the lead to 8-2.
In the top of the fourth, MAU manufactured another run. Powers reached on an error, then advanced to third on a long fly ball by Normyle. Then Farnum hit the ball to the right side for an out, but got an RBI in the process.
BBA added a third run in the bottom of the fourth on a double by Scott Mooney.
"We had a couple people continue to battle. Sam Cottrell came in and pitching 1 2-3 [innings] scoreless, Billy Kiernan's first game of the year, gets a tough out against a lefty," Lewicki said. "Griff was never giving up, very focused. I think we didn't do a good job when we were down 8-0 making [O'Neill] pitch. He only threw 93 pitches and we made it easy for him."
In the final three innings, O'Neill allowed a runner in each but managed to stay out of real trouble and not allow the Bulldogs to make a comeback. O'Neill scattered nine hits and three runs in his complete game outing.
After making the outs, a couple of BBA players came back to the dugout throwing bats or helmets, something that Lewicki said he discussed in the post-game huddle.
"I'm certainly not discouraged we lost, but I am with how we handled it with our actions," Lewicki said. "It got the best of them mentally."
Multiple hitters for the Patriots were Bentley, Condo, Normyle, Farnum, Bush and Shea, who was the leading hitter with a 3-for-4 day. For the Bulldogs, Stalcup was 3-for-3 with two doubles, a run scored and an RBI.
"Will really stepped up today and played a big role in place of [injured regular catcher James Marsden]," O'Neill said. "He's only a freshman so it's good to see for the later years."
Mount Anthony improves to 7-3, while BBA is 9-1.
"The school rivalries are always the best, and most of us have played with those guys and know them pretty well," O'Neill said. "It puts a little extra into it."