Kirkland tosses complete-game shutout in 1-0 Unionville win
● By Richard Gaw
To Unionville pitcher Noah Kirkland, peering in to his catcher Henry Goodier at the start of Monday's game against Octorara at Unionville must have felt like he was throwing through a snow globe.
The weather, usually a major player in early-season baseball, was of little concern to Kirkland, however, as the senior pitcher battled through harsh conditions and a few tough innings to record a 1-0, complete-game shutout, behind smart fielding and a lone run that was manufactured by the Indians' Kyle Lyons.
“It was pretty cold today, but I just hit my spots and everything just seemed to work itself out,” said Kirkland, who is headed to Mount St. Mary's next year. “I really try to spot my fastball first, and try to get some ground balls with it, and the breaking ball comes second. But it was really my fastball that got me through today.”
As persistent flakes dotted the field throughout the game, it was determined early on that the pitching of Kirkland and Braves' starter Aaron Feld would yield a pitchers' duel and not a slugfest, as both pitchers tossed shutout ball through the first few innings. Kirkland gave up a one-out single to Matt Rudisill, who advanced to third base on a double by Jude Unitis that went over the head of center fielder Joe Zubillaga. Kirkland then struck out Jack Jobe and got leadoff batter Andy Imbierwicz to ground out to end the threat.
Meanwhile, Feld cruised early in the game, striking out the side in the first inning and surrendering just one hit through the first three innings. He surrendered the game's only run in the fourth inning, when Unionville's leadoff batter Kyle Lyons worked a walk, stole second, scampered to third on a wild pitch by Feld, and scored on an infield groundout by Zubillaga.
Octorara started another scoring threat in the top of the sixth, when Johnny Cummings led off with a bunt single. Rudisill then bunted back to Kirkland, who tossed to backup first baseman Peter Murphy for the out, but in a bang-bang play that preserved Unionville's win, Murphy saw Cummings turn second in an attempt to get to third, and fired a cross-the-field bullet to third baseman Nick Samulewicz, who slapped the tag on Cummings to complete the double-play and end the scoring threat.
“My defense is always great and my teammates are always picking me up,” said Kirkland, who struck out two batters in the top of the seventh inning. “I always trust that Peter is going to come off the bench and perform just as well as the starters, and I am happy that he and the rest of my teammates could play well behind me today.”
With the win, coach Mike Magee's Indians improved to 4-2 on the season, placing them in the middle of a crowded field of teams in the Ches-Mont who sport a winning record. On April 11, they play their cross-town rival Kennett at Kennett High School, then come back home on April 13 against Great Valley. The loss gave Octorara a 1-4 record on the season, with the chance to improve their mark when they play host to Kennett on April 13.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email firstname.lastname@example.org.