Dynamic duo powers Norton
Bashaw, Twitchell key win over Ware
LOWELL — Big games call for big-time performances, and Norton got a pair of them yesterday in the MIAA Division 3 state championship from pitcher A.J. Bashaw and designated hitter Mike Twitchell.
Bashaw threw a whopping 129 pitches over 6 1/3 innings and Twitchell’s first-inning grand slam jump-started the Lancers’ offense as Norton held on to claim a 7-4 victory over Ware at LeLacheur Park.
Bashaw allowed nine hits and just two earned runs while striking out seven and walking three. He also worked out of numerous jams, causing the Indians to strand nine runners during the game.
“[Coach Ted Currie] would ask me how I felt, and I just kept saying I felt good,’’ Bashaw said. “Even when he came to take me out, I wanted to stay in.’’
Twitchell, meanwhile, got things going for Norton with his first-inning blast over the left-field fence that gave the Lancers a 4-0 lead.
“I knew a fastball was coming, so I was sitting back on that and it came,’’ Twitchell said. “It was the biggest home run of my life, ever.’’
For Ware, the first two innings consisted of lost opportunities. Center fielder Zach Cloutier was tagged out in a rundown between third base and home in the first, and the Indians couldn’t muster a run in the second despite loading the bases with no outs.
“We couldn’t get any runs up on the board in the first two innings, and that hurt,’’ Ware coach Scott Slattery said. “We had our opportunities, and the game was there for us to win. We just couldn’t get that crooked number on the board.’’
The Indians finally broke through with a pair of runs in the third. Left fielder Ryan Sidur tripled to drive in catcher Stephen Siller, and Sidur came home two batters later on a sacrifice fly by third baseman Dylan Lask.
Norton struck back with three runs in the fourth. Back-to-back RBI singles by first baseman Eddie Hannon and left fielder Phil Rizzo preceded a sacrifice fly by third baseman Tom Munger that gave the Lancers a 7-2 lead.
Ware clawed back into the game in the sixth, however, aided by Norton miscues. The Lancers committed back-to-back errors to start the frame, and a walk loaded the bases. The Indians managed to score a pair of runs on a fielder’s choice and a wild pitch, but Bashaw kept them at bay and didn’t allow the hit Ware needed to even the score.
“We needed a gap shot,’’ Slattery said. “We’ve been doing it all year, but we didn’t get it today.’’
Ware had one more chance in the seventh after putting two men on with one out. Norton pitcher Jeremy Wright came on in relief of Bashaw, though, and ended the game by inducing a pair of groundouts.
“We held on, and it was a crazy game,’’ Currie said. “But I’ve never been happier as far as baseball goes. This is amazing.’’