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Friday, May 30, 2014

Hollis Brookline baseball falls to Portsmouth in pitchers duel

HOLLIS – Cam LaFleur’s performance on the mound was worthy of a victory, but the Hollis Brookline High School baseball team’s bats could not come up with a well-timed hit to deliver that outcome.

LaFleur struck out 15 batters and allowed two hits in seven innings, but the Cavaliers were edged, 1-0, by Portsmouth in nine innings on Thursday. The loss halted a nine-game winning streak for Hollis Brookline after it started the season at 3-2. ...

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HOLLIS – Cam LaFleur’s performance on the mound was worthy of a victory, but the Hollis Brookline High School baseball team’s bats could not come up with a well-timed hit to deliver that outcome.

LaFleur struck out 15 batters and allowed two hits in seven innings, but the Cavaliers were edged, 1-0, by Portsmouth in nine innings on Thursday. The loss halted a nine-game winning streak for Hollis Brookline after it started the season at 3-2.

The Clippers (12-4) had five hits, but Kyle Maurice made the difference in the top of the ninth when he pasted a solo home run over the center field fence.

“We knew we were in for a good game, we had the right guy on the mound if we could just score him a couple of runs, but unfortunately we didn’t,” Hollis Brookline coach Ryan Coulter said.

“We just didn’t get a hit when we needed it. We left too many guys on base and didn’t execute. It just didn’t bounce our way today.”

At the plate, the Cavaliers (12-3) produced six hits, but none came at the right time to bring in a run. Runners were placed in scoring position on a number of occasions, but the Portsmouth defense was able to shut down the opportunities each time.

Hollis Brookline had a runner waiting at third base in the third and fifth innings, but was foiled both times when Clippers pitcher James Haslam (seven K’s, six hits, eight innings) got out of each jam with a strikeout.

“He had a nice curveball,” LaFleur said on Haslam. “He was keeping us off balance and we’re a fastball hitting team so we just couldn’t adjust to a curveball.”

The bottom of the eighth saw runners at first and second for the Cavaliers, but the Portsmouth fielders collected Tommy Schmalz’s grounder up the middle to tag Shea Whalen out at second. Hollis Brookline ended up stranding eight runners on the day.

“We knew LaFleur wasn’t going to give us anything and Haslam went out and battled him pitch-for-pitch,” Portsmouth coach Tim Hopely said.

“Anytime we got ourselves in trouble he made big pitches and got us out. You’ve just got to keep pounding away and Kyle got one that he liked in the ninth.”

Aside from Maurice’s homer, the Cavaliers defense clamped down on the Clippers’ base running.

Portsmouth failed to reach third through the first eight innings until Kobie Taylor stole it in the top of the ninth, but was left on when Whalen (four K’s, two hits, two innings) retired two straight batters to end the inning.

“We’re a good defensive team,” said LaFleur “Our strong suit is pitching and defense, but we couldn’t scratch a run across.”

Whalen had stepped in for LaFleur on the mound after the seventh and after Maurice’s shot, recovered nicely to get out of a jam with runners at second and third.

“If you give up one run in high school, you’re going to win most of those games,” Coulter said.

Hollis Brookline’s regular-season finale is at St. Thomas Aquinas (10-5) on Saturday. Tournament play begins next week.