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By Steve Krause / The Daily Item
MARBLEHEAD — Sometimes, when a pitcher does something truly historic, it's better to ask the other team's coach about it. After all, his players were the ones who had to hit against said pitcher.That was the case Saturday after English's Ben Bowden pitched a perfect game -- striking out 14 -- as the Bulldogs defeated Marblehead, 5-0, in their season opener at Seaside Park.Click here for a photo gallery."I've never been part of a perfect game," said Marblehead coach Jason Tarasuik. "The bottom line is he dominated us. He had full command of all his pitches. And we always seemed to be behind in the count."
"Coach talked to me before the game," said Bowden, a junior lefthander who had "potential" written all over him when he was a 13-year-old star for Lynn Babe Ruth. "He told me to go out there and throw strikes, and to just be me.""Me," in this case, is a pitcher who can get the ball up there at about 88 miles per hour, but who also has a devastating curve and changeup to go along with it.
"I think," said English coach Joe Caponigro, "that his changeup might be his best pitch. He has a tremendous changeup."All I know is that our catcher (Drew Gentile) didn't have to go to his knees once."Early in the game, Bowden said, he relied more on his fastball because he didn't like the way his changeup was going."I thought I left it up too much," he said. "But later in the game, it started working really well."Not only did Bowden handcuff Marblehead's hitters, he dominated its pitchers too. He went 2-for-2, with two walks, and would have scored one of English's five runs had he not been lifted late in the game for a pinch-runner so he wouldn't have to tire himself out on the bases.And -- of course -- no perfect game is complete, it seems, without a fielding gem or two that spells the difference between "history" and "almost, but not quite." In this case there were two. The first occurred in the fourth inning off Marblehead leadoff hitter Connor Green, who hit a sinking, twisting liner to left that freshman Kyle O'Connor ran down and caught while falling to his knees."It was a nice catch," said Caponigro.But it was Randale Lora, in center, who sealed the deal in the seventh -- again off Green. He made an over-the-shoulder catch, in full stride, for the first out of the inning."If it weren't for them," acknowledged Bowden, "we wouldn't be talking about any of this."I also have to give credit to my catcher, who was great; and my coach Fred Cole called a great game. I don't think I disagreed with him once."The only fly in the ointment, it seems, is that Marblehead starter Ross Gienieczko began the game just as effectively, with English's first six outs coming via the whiff."It was a great pitcher's duel," said Tarasuik, "at least in the beginning. You could tell right away what this was going to be like.""It was definitely a pitcher's day," Caponigro said.And, says Bowden, the fact that Gienieczko was so effective certainly made him bear down a little more."My only goal, when I pitch, is to match the other guy pitch for pitch," he said.English finally broke the logjam in the top of the fifth. After recording two quick outs, Gienieczko ran into trouble. Lora singled to center, and O'Connor doubled, putting runners on second and third. Bowden was walked intentionally to load the bases, and Matt Burnham followed with a two-run single up the middle.In the sixth, Lucas Harris reached on an error, Greg Gilchrist walked, and Lora knocked in the third run with a base hit.English got its final two runs in the seventh. Bowden led off with a single (with Jeremy Lessard pinch-running). A balk moved Lessard to second, with Melvin Cabrera doubling him in. Cabrera scored the final English run on an error.Ironically, Bowden was on a pre-game pitch count of between 75-80 because he'd pitched quite a bit last weekend during a scrimmage series on Cape Cod."But under the circumstances, we had to let him go," Caponigro said. "I don't think he's any worse for it."Bowden ended up throwing 91."You have to tip your hat to him," Tarasuik said. "That was quite a performance. I've never been part of a perfect game."Neither had Bowden ... and neither had Caponigro. Until Saturday.Steve Krause can be reached at email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org.
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