By Brian Hines, HockomockSports.com Contributor
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – When Attleboro loaded the bases in the fifth inning, Taunton head coach Blair Bourque decided to make a call to the bullpen to try and keep the score even.
The decision to bring in senior right-hander Brendan Bignar proved fruitful as he struck out the next two batters to escape the jam.
“It was huge, you know he comes in throwing strikes,” said Taunton head coach Blair Bourque. “We did that to ourselves, he was able to pick up Josh [Lajoie]. It was a great effort, good leader, came in throwing strikes and that’s what we needed him to do and that’s what he did.”
Along with Bignar, Taunton’s starter Josh Lajoie had success silencing the Bombardiers’ bats en route to a 1-0 victory.
Lajoie pitched 5.1 innings, striking out 12 batters while allowing just one hit. The two combined to toss a seven-inning shutout, combining for 18 total strikeouts.
“[Josh] is a good pitcher,” Bourque said. “If he can locate that fastball and pitch to contact more, keep the pitch count low and try to extend them a little bit, he’s going to be big for us.”
As effective as Taunton’s pitching staff was, Attleboro’s starter and senior captain Jon Candiales was just as brilliant. The right-hander struck out seven batters while pitching all seven innings for the Bombardiers’, allowing just two hits and one run.
Pietrzyk started the inning with a leadoff single and was able to steal second to be put in scoring position. He moved to third after a sacrifice bunt from Bignar.
“This was definitely a pitcher’s duel, lot of strikeouts. We got to get guys in motion and try to make things happen,” Bourque said. “It’s tough for [Attleboro] to lose that way and it’s something we got to work on, kind of put the ball in play and making things happen and actually getting those balls to drop.”
Attleboro had plenty of opportunities throughout the game to put runs on the board, but failed to capitalize. The Bombardiers’ drew eight walks, led by Tim Callahan with three, which is something Taunton has struggled with all season.
“We kill ourselves, we are our own worst enemy, walking guys, errors, big innings…you know you got to limit the damage,” Bourque said. “That’s been all year, the games you look back at you have a lot of regrets.”
Attleboro’s best opportunity outside of their bases-loaded situation in the fifth came the inning earlier. After Sam Larkin was hit by a pitch and Dakota Kirby drew a walk, a double steal put both runners in scoring position with no outs.
But three strong stops by Taunton catcher Ben Joyce left the runners where they were and Lajoie recorded three consecutive strikeouts to end the Bombardiers’ threat.
“We’ll take that, we’ll take it anyway them come right now, that was a tough game,” Bourque said.
Taunton baseball (8-5 Hockomock, 11-5 overall) returns to the diamond on Friday for a matchup with Sharon. Attleboro (5-9 Hockomock, 6-10 overall) is back in action on Sunday, as they welcome Lowell to town.