WEST NEWBURY — After coming from behind late to force extra innings, a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch gave Pentucket a 3-2 win over Stoneham in the preliminary round of the Division III North baseball tournament.
Call it a pitching gem. Or, call it a comeback. Whatever it was, it was winning weird.
“Oh, this was a weird one,” said Pentucket starting pitcher Ryan Kuchar. “This was a real weird one. It’s just awesome. There’s nothing better than winning on a walk-off in the playoffs.”
In a game that demanded eight innings to determine the outcome, the Sachems appeared to be in the process of finding a creative way to lose. Whether allowing a run with a defensive mishap or failing to score the game-tying run on a botched squeeze play, Pentucket lived up to its self-assigned identity.
By being loud, and at times excessively unusual, the Sachems describe themselves and their approach to games as simply “weird.”
Stoneham wasted little time in incorporating trickery into its offensive approach. As Shane Rhuda was intentionally picked off appearing to steal second base in the second inning, Nathan Cox was forgotten on third and safely took home.
The Spartans scored once more in the third before Kuchar found his rhythm and permanently turned off the Stoneham offense. After allowing two runs on four hits through three innings, he held the Spartans scoreless and hitless through the remaining five.
“I started off a little slow, but my arm started feeling better and I just pitched,” Kuchar said. “There’s nothing else to it. I have to give it up for my team behind me; they made some great plays out there. We had excellent defense.”
He finished the day with 10 strikeouts over eight innings pitched and no walks on 91 pitches.