'Complete' game leads to shutout win for Keene SwampBats over the Newport Gulls

·4 min read

Jun. 22—Had Jackson Ross not made those plays at third base, things may have been a bit different for the Keene SwampBats in Tuesday night's 6-0 shutout over the Newport Gulls.

Twice during the night, Ross made an unassisted double play to end the inning and keep the Gulls scoreless.

The first unassisted double play came in the fourth inning after Ross caught a line drive, then tagged third base before the runner could get back, ending a bases-loaded, one-out threat.

The second came in the sixth and looked exactly the same, when the Gulls had runners on first and third with one out. Ross made the play again to keep those runs from scoring.

It's called the hot corner for a reason.

"Timely plays because if those balls get by, that's two runs, each time," said Keene coach Shaun McKenna. "Then it's a lot tighter than normal. Those two plays were huge. When you're playing the hot corner, you have a top-spinning line drive both times and to make those plays and get a double play out of it, that's a big-time play for us."

Jackson Ross's first defensive gem helped out his brother, Michael Ross, who was Keene's starting pitcher, in a big way. Michael Ross pitched the first four innings, striking out four while allowing just four hits.

He found himself in some trouble in the fourth inning after a leadoff single, a fielder's choice, a walk and another single loaded the bases for the Gulls with one out. Newport's Jack Scanlon then lined one right to Jackson Ross at third base, and he touched the bag before the runner could get back to the base, to end the inning with no damage done.

"In my head, I was like, 'Can we get a double play here and get out of the inning?' " said Jackson Ross. "Then next thing I know, it came right at me, and I just stepped on the bag. Easy way to get out of it for it. I was happy for him. He's my brother and I was trying to do whatever I can to get out of the inning.

"[Mike] was just smiling at me as he was walking off the field," Jackson Ross added with a smile of his own. "He was like, 'There we go, finally,' "

Outside of that fourth inning, Michael Ross got through his outing without much trouble.

Ross's defense was only one part of an all-around complete game for Keene (7-5). The SwampBats did not make a single error in the win, saw efficient pitching from their hurlers and got the bats going early.

By the end of the third inning, Keene had a 5-0 lead.

"You get fired up," McKenna said. "But also, the pitcher is at ease out there. But we need shutdown innings after that, and that's what Mike did. He went down and shut it down the very next inning. Definitely, when you have a cushion and you have guys that put up runs for you, you want to support that too."

Keene got on the board with a three-run second inning, on Lucas Costello's two-run single and Colin Wetterau's RBI double. The SwampBats tacked on two more runs in the third inning with an RBI double from Carter Mathison and a sacrifice fly from Garrett Rice.

Then in the sixth inning, Paxton Tomaini added an insurance run with his first home run of the season to put the SwampBats ahead, 6-0.

It was another pitching-by-committee contest for the SwampBats, as three guys combined to get through the nine innings. After Michael Ross's four scoreless innings, Grant Besser made his first appearance of the season, pitching the next two innings, allowing just two hits. Adam Dowler finished off the last three innings without allowing a baserunner. He had four strikeouts.

"It doesn't get much more complete than that," McKenna said. "No errors, made every play, pitching was excellent. Dowler at the end just shut it down. He was outstanding. We had timely hits, some guys really worked some counts and at-bats. Pretty clean right there."

Around the horn: Tuesday's matchup was a battle between the two franchises with the most championships in the league. The Gulls lead the New England Baseball Collegiate League with six championships and the SwampBats are second with five titles ... The SwampBats next play Wednesday at the Maxfield Sports Complex against the Upper Valley Nighthawks (5-6) ... Keene next plays at Alumni Field on Thursday against the Ocean State Waves (5-8) at 6:30 p.m. ... Thursday will be Mascot Night at the ballpark ... Tuesday was Teacher Appreciation Night ... The SwampBats currently sit in second place in the Northern Division, 4.5 games behind the Vermont Mountaineers for the division lead.

Chris Detwiler can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1411, or cdetwiler@keenesentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @Chris_Detwiler.