CROMWELL >> What more can a pitcher do?
RCP Legion ace Tucker Lord was brilliant Friday evening at Fran Monnes Field. He fired a two-hitter — the first hit was to the game’s first batter — struck out nine and retired the final 13 batters he faced, eight by strikeouts.
One more thing. He lost.
West Hartford, RCP’s no-love-lost Zone 7 American Legion rival, beat him 2-1 on both a messed up double play ball in the third inning and because RCP was 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position after its first-inning run. RCP stranded eight.
“Tucker dominated, like we knew he would,” RCP coach T.J. Grande said. “He did everything he was supposed to do which doesn’t surprise me at all. He’s been doing it for three years. But this loss comes back to hitting. We are waiting for someone to come through with a big hit. We went through this for a time last year. We don’t know who it will be, but it will come and when it does, we’ll go on a roll.”
The hitting didn’t come last night and despite his overall brilliance, Lord had one hiccup of an inning in the third, an inning in which his wildness and a missed double play cost RCP the game.
RCP took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on an unearned run. With two out Cory Baldwin (2-for-4) reached on an error by shortstop Danny White and Trevor Whalen got him home with a double to left-center that ticked off the glove of a diving Tyrek Robinson.
That was it for the RCP offense.
In the decisive third inning, Lord uncharacteristically lost the plate. He walked the first hitter, Jeff LaRosa, which is never a good idea, then compounded the felony by hitting No. 9 hitter Max Main.
Alex White bunted the runners up and another walk loaded the bases. Lord got Joe Celio to hit what looked like a double play ball to short. Baldwin made a quick toss to second baseman Amir Nitowki, who isn’t the regular second baseman.
Nitowski double-clutched and while he got the out at second, he threw over first baseman Leo Thomas’s head as two runners scored.
Both runs were earned as the scoring rules prohibit anticipating a double play and a following single by Tim Dickson would have scored the second run. But a double play would have ended the inning.
“The wildness is not like Tucker,” Grande said. “But this year is a little different in that he’s a college kid and it’s not like pitching in high school then continuing it in Legion. Once we get into the season, he will be fine.”
RCP (6-1 overall, 5-1 in the zone) had plenty of scoring chances — and squandered them all.
In the second inning it had runners on second and third with two outs. Cole Ogorzalek tried to surprise everyone with a bunt. It likely surprised everyone all right, but he bunted back to the pitcher for an easy out.
Baldwin led the third with a hit, but the next three hitters went quietly.
RCP got its first two runners on in the fourth on a single by Sean Melaven and a walk to Thomas. After Nitowski bunted the runners up, winning pitcher Sam Dobbins struck out Luke Matchett and Ogorzalek to strand the runners.
Again RCP got its leadoff hitter on in the fifth when Baldwin singled, but cleanup hitter Trevor Whalen rapped into a double play. Ogorzalek drew a two-out walk in the seventh, but Baldwin bounced to first on the first pitch he saw to end it.
West Hartford (2-1) did nothing after its two-run third inning, but two was enough.
Dobbins allowed six hits, walked three and struck out five.
“It’s not fun losing to West Hartfrod,” Grande said. “But we see them two more times, so we’ll have our chance.”
RCP plays at Plainville in another Zone 7 game today at 11 a.m. Nitowski is scheduled to pitch.