BURLINGTON >> Thomaston batters jumped on Lewis Mills pitcher Justin Gallicchio in the first inning of their 5-4 win at Mills, then got just one more hit as the Spartans clawed back Tuesday afternoon at Lewis Mills High School.
“I loved the way we came out of the gate,” said Golden Bear coach Bob McMahon. “Their pitcher really settled down after that.”
“We knew it was a statement game, so we wanted to get a fast start,” said Thomaston lead-off hitter Mike Milius.
Thomaston (5-0) is alone at the top of the Berkshire League. Mills, 3-3 overall, 2-2 in the league, sits with several other contenders behind the Bears and 4-1 Northwestern.
Thomaston beat the Highlanders last week; now they had a shot at Mills.
Milius led their first-inning explosion with a double to the left centerfield fence.
Anthony Moura followed with an RBI single up the middle.
Jake Tehan lined a double to the right field corner, pushing Moura home.
Gallichio, a sophomore, delivered two strikeouts.
Thomaston resumed with an RBI triple from Dan LeVasseur and an RBI single by Brian Sousa.
The smoke cleared, 4-0 Thomaston.
It was up to the Spartans to answer.
Gallicchio and his batters spent the rest of the game working toward that.
Max Wadington (2-for-3, double, RBI, 2 runs) started with a leadoff single in the bottom of the first.
Two batters later, Sam Brooke doubled him in.
After an inning of booming bats on both sides, the message seemed to be, “Get ready, outfielders, here we come.”
Instead, Gallicchio (7 innings, 4 earned runs, 6 hits, 7 strikeouts, 3 walks, 2 hit batters) closed Thomaston down, allowing just two more flies out of the infield and one more hit, a ground single by Matt Tehan, in the seventh inning.
“He’s a battler,” said Lewis Mills coach Jesse Darcy. “He’s a young kid who was amped up for a big game in the first inning. Then he settled down and pitched very well.”
Back-to-back Mills throwing errors in the top of the fourth led to the final Thomaston run.
Justin Taylor led off, ending on third with the errors.
Jake Tehan sent a sacrifice fly to deep center field for what ended as the winning run, without a hit.
Meanwhile, Thomaston senior pitcher Brian Butkevicius (7 innings, 4 earned runs, 9 hits, 4 strikeouts, 5 walks) fought his own battle — hanging in wilth just the right amount of stuff for the final out.
“Coach said they had some really good hitters and I tried to work around them,” he said.
Sometimes it worked; sometimes it didn’t.
Thomaston center fielder Justin Taylor stayed busy with four catches in three innings after the first inning.
Nevertheless, in the bottom of the fourth, a walk to Dave Swanson and a double to left by Wadington put another score on the board for Mills.
In the fifth inning, Jake Naparstek hit a two-out double. Swanson moved him to third on an error; Nick Gauthier got him home with a single up the middle, 5-3.
Wadington led off with a walk in the sixth inning, stole second, then scored on a throwing error, 5-4.
In a steady light rain, both pitchers bore down.
After the final Mills run knocked on Thomaston’s door, Butkevicius ended the sixth with a strikeout and grounders to short.
Galicchio snuffed out a final Golden Bear threat in the top of the seventh— runners on first and second after Tehan’s hit and a hit batter — with a strikeout.
Bottom of the seventh. Mills batters had one more chance.
Butkevicius got quick outs on two grounders to second.
Swamson lined a single down the first base line. Gauthier walked.
Butkevicius reached back for one more strikeout.
Thomaston made its statement.
Mills had a pretty good speech as well.
Thomaston 5, Lewis Mills 4
At Lewis Mills High School
Thomaston 400 100 0—5 6 3
Lewis Mills 100 111 0—4 9 4
WP: Brian Butkevicius. LP: Justin Gallicchio. 3B: T—Dan LeVasseur. 2B: T—Mike Milius; Jake Tehan. LM—Max Wadington; Jake Naparstek.
Records: Thomaston 5-0; Lewis Mills 3-3 overall; 2-2 Berkshire League