McCarthy delivers walk-off win for Merrimack Valley baseball

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  • Merrimack Valley second baseman Dillon McCarthy slides under the tag of Coe-Brown pitcher Spencer Murphy to score MV’s third run on Friday, April 19, 2019. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Merrimack Valley second baseman Dillon McCarthy (center) gets mobbed by teammates after hitting the game-winning single against Coe-Brown on Friday, April 19, 2019. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Merrimack Valley second baseman Dillon McCarthy slides under the tag of Coe-Brown pitcher Spencer Murphy to score MV’s third run on Friday, April 19, 2019. Murphy looks up at the umpire as Ben Rose gives the safe signal. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Merrimack Valley second baseman Dillon McCarthy slides under the tag of Coe-Brown pitcher Spencer Murphy to score MV’s third run on Friday, April 19, 2019. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 4/19/2019 8:22:00 PM

PENACOOK – When Dillon McCarthy came up in the bottom of the seventh with the bases loaded and his team down a run, the Merrimack Valley senior had two thoughts. First, McCarthy wanted redemption.

“I made an error earlier in the game to give up a run, so I just wanted to get that back for my team and drive the runs in,” McCarthy said. “They started the push, I just wanted to finish it.”

McCarthy did finish it, lining a single up the middle to drive in two runs for a 6-5 walk-off win against Coe-Brown on Friday afternoon. Before he came through with the hit, McCarthy’s second thought was that he knew he could come through, because he had already done it a year ago.

“I think it was the bases loaded, too, and it was a line drive to center, so it was almost the same exact hit,” McCarthy said.

He wasn’t the only one thinking about that 2018 walk-off against Sanborn.

“(McCarthy) is one of the guys we want up there because he makes contact all the time, he’s ready all the time, he’s dependable and last year he came through with a game-winning hit against Sanborn in a similar fashion,” MV coach Sean Wheeler said. “I thought back to last year and he kind of smiled after he got the hit and I think we were both thinking the same thing, like deja vu.”

It was a nice win for the Pride (3-3) because Coe-Brown (1-2) seemed in control as it built an early 5-0 lead. Ryan Hughes sparked the Bears from the top of the first inning and didn’t stop, finishing the game 3-for-4 with a double, three stolen bases, a run scored and an RBI.

Hughes hit the first pitch of the game for a single, stole second, stole third and came home on an RBI ground out from Luke McCusker. Hunter DeCota pushed that first-inning lead to 2-0 when the big lefty sliced a double down the left-field line to plate Jacob Rich.

Those were the only two earned runs allowed by MV starter Cal Chevarie. The junior pitched all seven innings, striking out seven, walking one, giving up four hits and working around four errors.

“We almost ruined a great performance by Cal,” Wheeler said. “Cal was fantastic and he was at 81 pitches after six innings, and he probably should have been at 60 pitches after six. But they stayed with it, which is good, that’s what we always talk about it, stay with it and move on to the next play.”

The Bears plated an unearned run in the second when Matt Messenger reached on an error and eventually scored on a two-out single from Hughes. They added another run in the fourth on two errors and a ground out, and Coe-Brown made it 5-0 in the fifth when Spencer Murphy singled, stole second and came home on a two-base throwing error.

While the Bears were scraping together runs, the Pride couldn’t get anything going against McCusker, the Coe-Brown starter, through the first four innings. McCusker allowed just two base runners through the first four, but he walked the first two batters of the fifth and then gave-up a two-out, two-run double to Matt Ostrowski (2-for-3, two RBI, two runs) as the Pride crept to within 5-2.

“Luke was good,” Coe-Brown coach Seth Wentworth said. “He had a real low pitch count at first, but then after a couple long innings, and it was finally warm out, I think he got fatigued. But I thought he pitched a good game, I was happy with that performance.”

McCusker (5-plus IP, four strikeouts, four walks, two hits) walked McCarthy to lead off the fifth and was lifted in favor of Murphy. Caleb Heath greeted Murphy with a single, and then McCarthy moved to third and Heath went to second on a passed ball. McCarthy would come home on a wild pitch, but Hughes prevented a big inning when he made a diving catch at shortstop on a wicked line drive from Chevarie and then doubled Heath off second base.

After Chevarie stranded a runner at third in the top of the seventh, the Pride went back to the comeback. Ben Rose (2-for-2, two runs, walk) led off the bottom half of the seventh with a single and Josh Planchet drew a walk to put runners on second and chase Murphy, who was relieved by Hughes. Ostrowski drilled Hughes’s first pitch back up the middle to load the bases.

“You have to be (looking fastball) on the first pitch,” Ostrowski said. “It’s a new guy, you know he wants to get ahead in the count.”

Griffin Wheeler followed that with a walk to drive in Rose, make the score 5-4 and set the stage for McCarthy.

“The first thing I said to them after the game was, I’m happy with toughness we showed and the resiliency coming back, that’s all great stuff, and then I went into, we’ve got to catch the ball and be better defensively,” coach Wheeler said. “When we play clean we’re pretty good, so now it’s kind of nice to roll into April break with that win and hopefully that will lead into us playing better baseball down the road.”

(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at 369-3341 or or on Twitter @timosullivan20)

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