Burke’s shutout highlights tough week for Blue Sox

July 17, 2013
HOLYOKE – Clutch hitting and a strong pitching performance helped keep the Holyoke Blue Sox hovering around .500 for the season.

On July 11, the Blue Sox scored three in the ninth frame, capped with a two-run walk-off double by second baseman Brendan Hendriks to snatch a 5-4 victory against the Danbury Westerners.

In the final half inning of the game, Blue Sox pinch-hitter Jacob Bruce worked a leadoff walk. Michael Burke followed with a single and shortstop Matt Reida then hit another single.

Catcher Justin Morhardt then hit a ball to the track in left for a sacrifice fly that would have likely been a grand slam in any other park but the cavernous Mackenzie Stadium.

After a strikeout by left fielder Jason Lombardozzi, Hendriks came to the dish and turned on a 2-1 fastball and drove it over the first base bag, driving in pinch-runner Johnny Locher to tie it and Reida to win the game.

“I had the day off, but going into it I figured I might have had the opportunity later in the game if it was a close game, and it just so happened…that I got a good pitch to hit and it worked out,” Hendriks said. “It’s nice to come back home and get a win.”

Holyoke reliever Kyle Rasmussen took the victory with one walk, one hit, and one strikeout in 1.1 innings. Starter Jordan Kutzer did not get a decision despite six innings of two hit, three walk scoreless ball with two strikeouts.

“The approach was the same as always: to attack the zone low and keep the intensity up…you know, I faced these guys last week, and so it was a little daunting coming out here again because this was going to be their fifth, sixth, seventh at bat against me, and so I knew I had to work it down and make it tough to hit every pitch I had,” Kutzer said.

The Blue Sox spoiled a strong outing on the hill as the bats went silent in a 2-0 loss to the Laconia Muskrats on July 12.

Jordan Hillyer tossed seven innings of two-run ball, allowing seven hits and two walks while striking out four. Nicholas Sanchez relieved him with one hitless inning, striking out the side.

Reida was the only Blue Sox to record multiple hits.

The next night, the Blue Sox’ pitching prowess was rewarded as Michael Burke earned a 4-0 win with a complete-game shutout. He gave up five hits, walked one and struck out 11 Sanford Mainers.

Burke had thrown seven or more innings in five of his six starts this season and boasts a 0.39 ERA with 37 strikeouts in 46 innings pitched.

He was supported offensively in the sixth inning when Morhardt scored on a balk making it 1-0. Reida would score later in the inning on an infield single by Vahn Bozoian.

The Blue Sox tacked on two more runs in the seventh off RBI singles from Bruce and Sal Annunziata driving in Joseph Carcone and Jake Bergren, respectively.

On July 14, the Blue Sox dropped a 7-6 decision to the New Bedford Bay Sox in a game that featured three errors by each side.

The Bay Sox broke the game open in the eighth, scoring four times, as right fielder Kurt Seiders hit a sacrifice fly to start the scoring, followed up by designated hitter Christopher Shaw’s two run double to right, and capped by catcher Christopher Travers singling to left to plate Shaw, giving New Bedford a 7-2 lead.

Holyoke came right back in the bottom half of the inning with Annunziata singling on the infield to bring in Carcone, and catcher Joel Fisher bashing a bases-loaded double to right to make it 7-6.

In the ninth, Holyoke had runners on first and second with two outs, but Bay Sox closer Nick Friar got Bruce to strike out swinging, one of three strikeouts in the frame, to end the game.

On July 15, Holyoke lost a game that featured missed opportunities and mistakes by both sides 4-3 to the Ocean State Waves.

The Blue Sox took an early 1-0 lead, but the Waves scored three in the fourth inning to take a two-run advantage.

Holyoke got a run back in the home half of the frame, as Fisher, Burke, and Morhardt all singled, with the last bringing the first in from third.

In the seventh, Ocean State would scored again to regain a two-run lead and while Fisher hit a sacrifice fly to plate Bozoian to close the gap to one in the eighth, Hendriks’ attempt to tie the game on a fly ball to center was thwarted as he was gunned down at home.

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