FAIR HAVEN — “That was the definition of a pitcher’s duel,” Fair Haven coach Adam Greenlese said after his Slaters lost a heartbreaking 1-0 decision to Ethan Senecal and the Burr and Burton Bulldogs on Saturday.
Senecal fired 95 pitches to fashion a one-hit, complete game shutout, with 10 strikeouts and a walk, while hitting a pair of batters to best Fair Haven starter Aubrey Ramey.
Senecal, the 17-year-old junior right-hander, was sensational but Fair Haven’s Ramey was pretty darn good himself.
The right-handed Ramey used only 88 pitches and scattered four hits, with seven strikeouts and one walk and yielded an unearned run to wind up as the hard luck loser.
“We didn’t swing it particularly well but I’ll give all the credit to their pitcher (Ramey), I thought he was great today,” Bulldog coach Ed Lewicki said. “He (Senecal) is somebody who came on to pitch pretty well for us last year. Ethan led our staff in wins as a sophomore and he’s been great for us. His performance on opening day today is pretty promising for our season.”
Senecal retired the first nine batters before yielding the lone hit to Austin Beayon to lead the fourth.
Senecal employed a zippy fastball, dipping curve and knee-buckling change to work his way through the Slater lineup.
The only time he was in any trouble was in the fourth. And he got out of it with some help from the Slaters.
Beayon’s single led the inning and he was wild pitched to second but the Slater leadoff hitter decided to continue on and try for third. The move proved ill advised. Catcher Owen King cut Lanthier down with a fine throw, coupled with a solid tag by Chad Pouk.
With one down, Andrew Lanthier drew a walk, stole second base and reached third on a fielding error. Here Lewicki drew his infield in and got exactly what he wanted when Parker Morse hit a hard ground ball to the shortstop, who held the runner and got the out at first. Aaron Szabo hit a fly ball hard but right to the right fielder for the final out of the frame.
“He’s (Ramey) such a gamer; he goes out there and does his job and the other guys have got to back him up,” Greenlese said. “We gave them that run; we didn’t play sound baseball and that’s what hurts you. It was a very winnable game but you have to hand it to their pitcher. He threw a great game too and kept us off balance.”
While any baseball fan can feel good about the performance of Senecal, you have to feel badly for Ramey, who gave up one measly unearned run in the third.
Blake Greene led off the third and reached on a fielding error in the infield that allowed him to take second. With Daniel Hathaway coming up to hit, Lewicki called for the hit and run, which Hathaway executed, sending a single through the infield while Greene motored around to score.
From there, each pitcher hung zeroes on the scoreboard working at a speedy pace in a game that lasted one hour and thirty-five minutes.
It appeared that Senecal lost some velocity on his fastball in the middle innings but the Slater hitters could not capitalize. Senecal said he felt he got more energy as the game progressed and was able to finish strong retiring 12 of the last 14 batters.
“The fastball felt good, I hit my spots; the curve ball got some kids out which is good and the change worked also,” said Senecal, who credits much of his development to playing for Rutland Post 31 last summer. “We had a nice team one-through-nine and everybody could play. Being the young kid in the rotation helped me make a statement.”
The win came in Burr and Burton’s season opener. The 1-0 Bulldogs entertain Mill River Wednesday. The Slaters even their record at 1-1 and travel to Brattleboro to tangle with the Colonels on Thursday at 5 p.m.