NASHUA – The winning team in a pitchers’ duel usually does two things – make the routine plays and make an exceptional play.
The Nashua High School North baseball team did both in Thursday’s 1-0 win over Dover at Holman Stadium.
The Titans committed no errors behind pitcher Jake Mellin, who tossed a five-hit shutout with seven strikeouts, and took advantage of two Green Wave errors to scratch across the game’s only run in the bottom of the sixth.
And North got an exceptional defensive play in the top of the third to keep the game scoreless, as centerfielder Louis Tarantino made a perfect throw home to nail a Dover runner.
“It was a fun game to watch,” North coach Wil Henderson said. “Two pitchers went out and took care of their business.”
While Mellin was pitching his fourth complete game of the season, Dover sophomore Anthony Lupi was matching the North senior with zeros on the scoreboard. But for the third time this season, Lupi ended up with a tough-luck loss.
“This is the third complete game he’s thrown, the third game he’s given up zero earned runs and the third game he’s lost,” Dover coach John Carver said. “He’s played really well. He gives us a chance every time he goes out there and we count on him to do so. He hammered the strike zone and he does a nice job. It would be nice if we could pay him back for his efforts.”
Mellin has done the same for North (7-1 in Division I) this season. Going into the year, he knew he was going to have to step up, and he’s done that, throwing 27 innings so far.
“Coach told me before the season that he wanted to ride my arm, so I’m always trying to go seven,” Mellin said.
Henderson thinks his ace has started to spoil the Titans.
“We’re getting a little spoiled because he’s been pretty efficient every time,” Henderson said. “We write out a pitching plan, and usually in high school, you write out for four, maybe five innings. We’re starting to think we’ve got him for at least six and probably seven.”
Mellin also had both of North’s hits off Lupi, coming the bottom of the second and the fourth, and both times, Dylan Kost followed with a walk. Neither was able to get past second, as Lupi bounced back to get out of the inning both times.
Dover (2-6) had just one runner reach third base, and that came in the top of the third, when Aaron Dennis hit a one-out single and went to second on a passed ball. Kyle Seawards followed with a single to center field and Dennis tried to score from second.
Tarantino’s made a perfect throw home, hitting catcher Matt Fortin on the fly and putting him in a great spot to make the tag.
“Not a lot of kids (make that play),” Henderson said. “He didn’t try to do anything special, he just made a nice throw. They’re trying to get something going. It’s tough to go with one out, but that may be your shot. I probably would have done the same.”
North broke the tie in the sixth, when Shannon Martin opened the inning by reaching on an error. A balk got him to second base and Martin went to third on a ground ball by Kalvin Rodriquez.
Dover made another error on that play, giving the Titans runners on the corners with one out. Brendan Martin came in to run for Shannon Martin, and North executed a double steal, but when the throw home sailed over catcher Connor Rittenhouse, Rodriquez was slow getting to third and was tagged out when he overslid the base.
“We’ve got to be better at that,” Henderson said of his team’s base running. “We’ve given ourselves a chance by being 7-1, but we’re not playing the cleanest version of baseball that we need to play. The kids will continue to grow.”
Mellin gave up a two-out single in the top of the seventh, but finished Dover off by striking out Hunter Holt.
“We’re pretty inexperienced,” Carver said. “North made all the routine plays, and when we had our chance, they did the exceptional thing and then they got the run.”