Two of the top pitchers in the Hockomock League went back in forth, Figueira landing a punch the top half only for Tellier to answer with a counter punch on the mound in the bottom half.
While both pitchers were engaged in a heavyweight battle, both offenses struggled to get just about anything going, combing for three hits total.
In the end, it was a walk, Taunton’s lone hit and an error in the bottom of the 8th inning that allowed the Tigers to walk off with a 1-0 over the Bombardiers.
“It’s a win and it’s a league win against an outstanding opponent and a well coached team so we’ll take it,” Taunton head coach Jeff Sylvia said. “And it was against one of the better pitchers in the league. So after the first week we have two wins and just one loss so that’s a good week. Now going forward we have two big games coming up after the City Championship [against Coyle].”
Taunton went seven innings without a hit but finally got one in the bottom of the eighth inning. Junior William Emerson battled to draw a lead off walk and advanced to second on Matt Machado’s sacrifice bunt back to pitcher Matt Callahan. Senior Brendon Mazerolle reached on a hard hit infield single to put runners on first and second. Callahan responded with a strikeout for the second out.
Senior Max Bowden then hit a hard hit grounder up the left field line was squirted through at third base and rolled slowly into left field. With two outs, Emerson was running on contact and came around to score the winning run.
“Whoever is going to play better defense is going to win [these types of games],” Attleboro head coach Matt Bosh admitted. “We made some mistakes, a couple popups, we booted a couple of ground balls. Eventually those will hurt you and they did.”
Attleboro had one of its best chances in the opening inning when a one out walk preceded a single and a fielder’s choice to load the bases. Figueira was able to get his third strikeout of the first inning to escape the jam though.
Taunton’s lead off batter reached in both the first inning (Machado via a walk) and sophomore Joe Manchester (via an error) but both times, Tellier came up with a pair of strike outs to walk away unscathed both times.
Figueria (four pitches) and Tellier (13 pitches) each breezed through the third inning. Bowden reached on an error to lead off the fourth and moved to second on a sac bunt from Manchester and to third on a wild pitch. But Tellier once again closed the inning with a strike out to escape.
Attleboro’s Tyler Stowe reached on a one out error in the fifth and moved to third after a stolen base and a ground out to short. Figueira closed the curtain on his performance by inducing another 6-3 groundout.
Tellier got into a little trouble in the bottom of the sixth after a hit batter and an error put runners on second and third with two outs but the senior got Manchester looking with his 98th and final pitch to get out of the jam.
In relief, both Taunton’s Bowden and Attleboro’s Callahan was very strong. Bowden had 1-2-3 innings in both the 6th and 7th but ran into a little trouble in the 8th inning. After getting a strikeout to start the top half, an infield error allowed Cam Hochwarter to reach. Nate Tellier then reached on another infield error to put runners on first and second.
Patrick Collins’ blooped Attleboro’s second hit of the game (and first since the first inning) into right centerfield. After a bobble from Machado, Figueira – who shifted to right field after coming off the mound – rocketed a throw to home to gun out Hochwarter at the plate. Bowden then induced a grounder to Mazerole at short get out of the inning.
“If the have runners in scoring position and we have either of those two guys pitching, I want the ball hit to [Mazerolle],” Sylvia said. “He’s as solid as you get. In the 12 years that I’ve been here, he’s one of the premier defensive players that we’ve had come through the program. It was nice to have a lot of 6-3s today. Luke, he’s another guy. With the game on the line, he was in the right place at the right time and he made a perfect throw.”
Tellier pitched six innings of no hit baseball, struck out 10 with just one walk issued. Figueira tossed five scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and struck out six. Neither pitcher was involved in the decision.
“Can’t ask for anything more pitching wise,” Bosh said. “We could battle more than we did at the plate. I don’t know how many called third strikes we had today but we need to battle better than we did today against good pitching. Everyone has a good pitcher so we need to learn to battle better against a good pitcher.”
“We had two really good pitching performances,” Sylvia said. :Fortunately we had our two veterans, our two top notch pitchers going today so that was beneficial. After a shaky first inning I thought Luke did a great job settling in, being very efficient and started to get ahead of hitters which is key for him. Sometimes he tries to be too perfect and too fine with his pitches but after the first inning he just attacked the strike zone and let the defense handle it. It all came down to pitching and we made the plays when we needed to so that’s the key.”
Taunton baseball improves to 2-1 overall and in league play. The Tigers will be back in action when they travel to Coyle & Cassidy on Monday in the all important City Championship. Attleboro (1-3) will look to bounce back when they travel to Sharon on Tuesday at 11:00AM.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.