THOMASTON >> Two of the hottest baseball teams in the Berkshire League met at Thomaston High School Wednesday afternoon in what turned out to be an 11-1 Golden Bear stampede over visiting Shepaug.
The Spartans arrived with a 10-2 record; Thomaston was 8-3, including a 6-game winning streak.
Long before that, Shepaug clobbered the Bears 13-6 in their season opener in Washington Depot.
Now Thomaston, which graduated 11 seniors from last year’s league championship team, had another chance at the Spartans.
“I don’t know about the other guys, but it got me psyched up,” said Justin Taylor, one of four current seniors left from that team.
“Justin is our unquestioned leader, on and off the field,” said Thomaston Coach Bob McMahon. “With just four seniors this year, he makes up for the other seven.”
Taylor, a right-handed pitcher who eats innings like a lawnmower eats grass (7 innings, 0 earned runs, 3 hits, 11 strikeouts, 2 walks), allowed a one-out hit to Shepaug’s Alan Stinson in the top of the first, then threw back-to-back strikeouts.
In the bottom of the inning, his teammates joined Taylor’s eagerness to take on the Spartans.
Leadoff Jake Torrence (2-for-4, 3 runs) lined a single to left. Jon Wilson (3-for-4, RBI, 2 runs) bunted a clean single. Jared Kahn (2-for-4, RBI, 2 runs) lay down another bunt single after Thomaston’s first out.
A wild throw to first scored Torrence.
With two outs, Jake George lined a two-run single up the middle, and it was 3-0 Thomaston.
“That first inning set the tone,” said Shepaug Coach Scott Werkhoven. “Give Thomaston credit. Taylor threw well and stayed ahead all day. They don’t back down at the plate.”
“We’re playing really well,” said McMahon. “I’m proud of the way they approach the game of baseball.”
In fact, the Golden Bears’ baseball approach looked much the same as the Thomaston girls approach to basketball – attack, attack, never give up.
McMahon coaches that team, too.
The Bears sprayed 15 hits in Wednesday’s game, all singles. Better still, they stranded only five runners while staying in continual motion on the base paths.
“When (McMahon’s) around, everybody works harder,” said Taylor.
“That’s how we get better at the basics,” said Wilson.
The Bears never let up.
While Taylor struck out two more Spartan batters for another easy inning in the second, the Bears were still hungry.
Devin Acker (2-for-3, 2 RBI, 2 runs), Torrence, Wilson and Kahn added to the hit total. An infield error scored Torrence. Kahn’s hit up the middle scored Torrence.
“I’ve been swinging a hot stick,” admitted Torrence, with his teammates’ encouragement.
“As the season goes on, I get more and more comfortable at the plate,” said Wilson, a sophomore whose play at second base was also impeccable.
“Our D was definitely there today,” said Taylor. “It takes a lot off me when I can just focus on what I do.”
“He’s getting better and better (at what he does),” said Wilson.
Shepaug held Thomaston to three batters in the third, thanks in part to Stinson’s dive for a line drive at second.
Down 5-0 in the top of the fourth, the Spartans hoped for a rally on two walks and a hit by Dave DeMeo. An error in the Thomaston outfield scored Ryan LaMay.
Taylor doused the fire with a strikeout.
Next inning Thomaston’s fire burned brighter than ever. Two walks, a Shepaug error and hits by Evan Butkevicius, Acker, Wilson, Taylor (2-for-4, RBI, run) and Kahn poured six final runs across the plate.
“Our pitchers have been doing a good job of keeping us in the game,” said Shepaug Coach Werkhoven. “Until today, we’ve had just one bad inning against Wamogo and one against Mills.”
Wednesday was Thomaston’s day.
Thomaston 11, Shepaug 1
At Thomaston High School
Shepaug 000 100 0 – 1 3 3
Thomaston 320 060 X – 11 15 2
WP: Justin Taylor. LP: Austin Dutcher.
Records: Shepaug 10-3; Thomaston 9-3.