Baseball: Bernier leads Merrimack Valley to 4-2 win over Pembroke

  • Merrimack Valley’s Owen Bernier hurls a pitch while Pembroke’s Owen Stewart takes a lead off third. Brackett Lyons / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 5/3/2022 4:35:06 PM
Modified: 5/3/2022 4:33:34 PM

As rain dribbled from the sky onto the baseball diamond on Monday, Merrimack Valley’s Owen Bernier dug his cleats into the muddy ground.

With runners on second and third base, Bernier had the opportunity to get the clutch hit his team had lacked so far this season. The lefty had just worked himself out of a similar jam on the mound in the top of the first. Now in the batter’s box, he refused to be beaten by a similar pitch.

Bernier hit the pitch to the opposite field, a line drive that thudded into the damp ground just inches from the foul line. As Bernier wheeled around first base, his teammates barreled homeward well ahead of the throw.

The two-RBI hit gave Merrimack Valley the lead. The Pride never relinquished it, taking down Pembroke, 4-2.

Bernier was a major factor in protecting the lead he helped build. The senior pitched 6⅔ innings of two-run ball with 10 strikeouts. His finest moment on the mound came in the top of the sixth. With men on second and third, Merrimack Valley clung to a 2-1 lead.

All Pembroke needed was a base hit to take the lead. Instead, Bernier delivered back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning.

“He’s done that all year,” said Merrimack Valley coach Sean Wheeler. “He just battles, he competes and if we make plays behind him, that’s the type of team we can be. It’s that simple.

“He competes every game. He’s leading the way for us. And today he was a bulldog. Huge game for him.”

For their part, the Spartans refused to go away quietly. Despite the loss of their coach, Joshua Coughlin, to an ejection in the fifth, and Merrimack Valley adding two more runs in the bottom of the sixth, the visitors rallied in the top of the seventh. With rain pouring down, the Spartans poured on the pressure. A sacrifice fly made it 4-2 before a walk by Bernier ended his outing just an out short of a complete game.

With the tying run on second base, Wheeler called on Ben Rose to get the final out. The senior was up to the task and buckled his opponent’s knees to finish the game on a called third strike.

“We’re still looking for that big-time hit to put games away,” said Wheeler. “Pembroke did a nice job staying in the game, but again we stayed with it and defense and pitching was great and that’s our bread and butter.”

The win puts the Pride at 3-2 on the year, while the Spartans fall to 2-4.

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