Saturday, May 20, 2017

P.J. Barry Pitches St. Peter-Marian Past Grafton

By John McGuirk (@patsfan1313)

WORCESTER - St. Peter-Marian's P.J. Barry is a highly-regarded centerfielder, widely considered one of best at his trade state-wide. But perhaps the St. Leo's University-bound senior may want to give a thought or two about trying to convince the Lions coaching staff to let him toil on the mound some come next season.

Handed the ball to start Friday's contest against Grafton, the right-hander was exceptional as he hurled a complete game gem, allowing just two hits in helping lead the Guardians to a 6-0 shutout over the Indians.

"I'm just trying to go out there and make my pitches," said Barry. "I know my defense behind me has my back, so I'm just trying to let them make the plays."

With the victory, St. Peter-Marian improves to 10-5, while Grafton drops to 14-3.

Barry, along with his counterpart, Grafton senior Tyler Rogers, matched each other pitch for pitch over the first three innings, keeping this contest scoreless.

But the Guardians finally got to Rogers, an Ithaca College commit, for a  run in the bottom of the fourth. Singles by Zach Natale and Ian Wallace put runners on the corners with one out. Kevin O'Callahan next hit a ground ball that was mishandled by second baseman Dylan Lague that allowed Natale to score.

"The second time through the line up our coaches were helping us make adjustments," Barry said. "It was then that we started to come around at the plate."

Known for their strong offense and defense, both ended up letting the Indians down on this warm, sunny afternoon. The offense continued in its struggle to solve Barry, while the defense remained porous at best which helped St. Peter-Marian opened things up in the fifth.

With one out, Barry and Dan Malm singled. Kosta Drosidis, after fouling off a couple of pitches, lined a single into center to plate Barry. On the play centerfielder JD Bailey bobbled the ball which resulted in Malm taking third. Kevin O'Callahan then ripped a single down the left field line to make it 3-0.

"Their pitcher was doing a great job mixing stuff up," said Guardians coach Ed Riley. "It took us something like 15 or 16 at bats to figure out what he was doing. He was very deceptive. He had a very good breaking ball and was spotting it up very well. The adjustment we tried to make was to sit back and attack his fastball early and we were fortunate to finally do that. It was good that PJ matched him and kept us in the game. He pitched very well today."

As Barry, who fanned five, continued to baffle Grafton's batters - sitting down the order on four different occasions - the Guardians offense (12 hits total) did finally start to figure out Rogers.

In the sixth, O'Callahan opened with a double, which in turn, spelled an end to Rogers (5 IP, 9 hits, 6 Ks) day. Sean Deely came in and immediately gave up a bunt single to Jeff Lamothe. On the play, Deely, who should have held onto the ball, threw wildly to first which scored pinch-runner Carter Liston and advanced Lamothe to second. Lamothe's time on base would be brief as the sophomore came around on Barry's single. After a wild pitch moved Barry up a base, he would later cross the plate on Malm's ground single up the middle to make it a six run lead.

"When you get a few more runs on the board guys start relaxing," Riley said. "Getting the three runs in the sixth was huge because we were able to put some tough pitches in play."

In spite of the encouragement put fourth by Grafton coach Mike Coonan, the Indians bats remained silent. After surrendering a lead off walk to begin the seventh, Barry retired the next three batters with relative ease to close this one out.

"It was very frustrating today," said Coonan. "Tyler deserved better. We made a couple of mistakes which led to runs but it is what it is. Unfortunately we didn't have life today and now we need to regroup."

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