HAMILTON – Returning to the Intertown Twilight League playoffs after a one-year absence, the Rowley Rams made their intentions clear from the start.

With Tim Cashman tossing a three-hit complete game, the third-seeded Rams claimed a 4-1 victory over the second-seeded Hamilton Generals in the opener of their best-of-three semifinal series Monday night. Rowley can advance to the five-game title series that begins Saturday with a win in tonight’s 5:30 home game at Eiras Park in Rowley. If needed, the two teams return to Hamilton for Game 3 on Wednesday.

“This is huge,” said Cashman, who finished with 10 strikeouts, including three in the seventh. “Getting a win on the road is big.”

A Triton graduate from Rowley, Cashman allowed a leadoff homer in the second to Phil Durkin that tied the score, but faced only three batters over the minimum while registering the final 18 outs.

“He was unbelievable,” Rowley manager Jeff Wood said of his starter. “Throwing (92) pitches with 10 strikeouts in a seven-inning game is really efficient. When Timmy gets his rhythm going like that, he’s really, really tough. He’s a really good pitcher.”

Cashman struck out five over the first three innings and eight through five while walking two.

“I threw a lot of sliders early then worked the curve late,” Cashman said. “I just tried to stay ahead of hitters. I didn’t want to fall behind and let them make outs if I could. I can’t be disappointed with (10 strikeouts). I was just going out there to attack the strike zone. Getting the strikeouts is a plus.”

Dmitri Hunt provided an early 1-0 advantage after leading off the game with a double to right before scoring on a Justin Bolla sacrifice fly. The Rams (15-7-1) took a 2-1 lead in the fourth when Bolla led off with a single and scored on the first of Lewi L’Heureux’s two doubles in the game.

Rowley, which lost three of four regular-season matches with Hamilton, scored a pair of insurance runs in a two-out sixth-inning rally that began with a bad-hop single by Anthony Conte. L’Heureux drilled a double down the third-base line before Joe White was hit by a pitch to load the bases.

Curtis Putnam, who had a single in his first at bat, plated a pair by lacing a ground-rule double that drew chalk on the left-field line.

“I was just thinking I had to stay tough,” said Putnam, a Georgetown graduate. “I wanted to have a good two-strike approach. I was waiting on a fastball. I fouled off a couple off speed pitches and just waited for him to throw one over the plate and I got a good swing on it. Scoring with two outs is huge. It’s a big blow to the other team.”

The Rams played error free and Cashman received ample infield support with a couple double plays, including one in the sixth when the second out was recorded via runner interference.

“When we’re going good defense is staple for us,” said Wood, whose club has won seven of its past nine by a combined 55-30. “It was a focus for us down the stretch, making sure we tightened things up and the guys really responded tonight.”

Rowley 4, Hamilton 1

Intertown Twilight League Semifinals

Game 1 (best-of-three)

Rowley (4): Dmitri Hunt lf 3-1-1, CJ Ingraham ss 3-0-0, Tim Cashman p 4-0-0, Justin Bolla 3b 2-1-1, Anthony Conte 2b 3-1-1, Lewi L’Heureux c 3-1-2, Joe White 1b 2-0-0, Curtis Putnam rf 3-0-2, Joe Esposito cf 3-0-0. Totals 26-4-7.

Hamilton (1): Jake Lanciani ss 3-0-0, Harrison O’Brien 3b 3-0-0, Larry Saggeese dh 2-0-0, Phil Durkin c 3-1-1, Chris Huggett cf 3-0-1, Keegan O’Shea lf 3-0-0, Henry Eager 1b 1-0-0, Brian Nicoll 2b 2-0-0, Dylan Stratton rf 2-0-1

RBI: Rowley – Putnam 2, Bolla, L’Heureux; Hamilton – Durkin.

HR: Hamilton – Durkin (none on in second).

WP: Cashman; LP: Luke Painchild

Rowley (15-7-1) 100 102 0 – 4

Hamilton (17-8) 010 000 0 – 1