MANCHESTER >> Not all great pitching performances are works of art. Sometimes all that is asked of a starting pitcher is to give his team a chance to win.
On Monday at Northwest Park, Maloney senior Michael Charest was somewhere in between.
The right-hander allowed one hit in a complete game performance where he struck out seven Manchester batters. He also walked six and hit two as the Spartans beat the Indians 4-2.
“Tough pitcher,” Maloney coach Howard Hewitt said. “Throws the ball hard. Competes. Good slider. … Sometimes he gets a little erratic, but we have to take our chances giving up one hit.”
Charest was sharp early.
He struck out five in the first three innings and only allowed one base-runner to reach second base – Robert Garcia stole second after being hit by a pitch with one out in the third.
“I knew I was cruising,” Charest said. “But I didn’t think about it too much. I was concentrating on getting people out and staying in the strike zone.”
Already spotted a 3-run lead before even taking the mound, he had some wiggle room.
Maloney’s first three batters of the game all reached base and all scored in the top of the first. Sebby Grignano and Aidan Clancy each scored on wild pitches by Manchester starter Spencer Fox. Charest scored the third run on a single to right field by Nicholas Boehler after walking.
And those early runs made a different for both sides.
“Once you’re down 3-0 in the first inning it makes things difficult,” Manchester coach Marc DiDominzio said. “You can’t steal bases as much as you want to, run and be aggressive or put bunts on when you get guys on. We got guys on with some walks, but we couldn’t really do much because we were down 3-0 or 4-0 when it got to the fifth and sixth inning. We’re chasing runs. We can’t risk running into extra outs.”
Charest walked two with two outs in the fourth, but Manchester wasn’t able to get anything going. The inning ended when the shortstop Grignano fielded a ground ball behind the second base bag, sprinted and slid feet first to get Tom Precourt on the fielder’s choice to end the inning.
Maloney tacked on an insurance run in the fourth when Colton Altmannsberger doubled with one out and scored after back-to-back errors by the Indians second baseman.
Manchester finally broke through in the sixth when the walks started to catch up to Charest.
Manchester’s Max Larmett and Dylan Benton both walked and eventually scored. Jason Frankovitch drove in the first run with a ground out and the second run came across on a sacrifice fly by Jacob Oquendo.
With runners still on first and second, Garcia hit a deep fly ball to center field in a swirling wind, but Altmannsberger was there to track it down thus minimizing the damage.
“It’s very reassuring to be confident in your defense when you’re on the mound,” Charest said.
Charest finished the game by getting Manchester in order in the seventh, including catching the final out of the game: a pop-up just off the mound.
“He hit his spots,” DiDominzio said. “He mixed in his fastball and curveball pretty well, got ahead of us (and) put us in a hole. We weren’t very aggressive until the fourth or fifth inning. Then we started hitting some balls hard. But he kept us off-balance. The kid did a nice job, good first-pitch strike and put us in a hole.”
Maloney 4, Manchester 2
Maloney: 300 100 0 — 4 6 0
Manchester: 000 002 0 — 2 1 3
(at Northwest Park)
Batteries: MAL — Michael Charest (W) and Tyler Dievert; MAN — Spencer Fox (L), Alan Menasian (5) and Tom Precourt.
2B: MAL — Colton Altmannsberger
SB: MAL — Joseph Gulino; MAN — Robert Garcia (2).
RBI: MAL — Nicholas Boehler; MAN — Jason Frankovitch, Jacob Oquendo.
Team records: Maloney 1-1; Manchester 1-1.