PLAISTOW — Baseball stoppers aren’t born. In fact, the title can only be earned on the mound under the most demanding of circumstances.
Yesterday, Timberlane Regional junior Jake Damphousse exhibited why he’s already a card-carrrying member of that special pitching fraternity, silencing Pinkerton Academy and halting the Owls’ season-opening skid at 0-2 with a 3-0 victory here over the Astros,
“Starting 0-3 would have been devastating to us mentally, and I knew I had to be ready,” said Damphousse, who no-hit the Astros over the first five innings on the way to his first win of the year. “We definitely needed this.”
Damphousse, who drew a no-decision in allowing two earned runs over five innings in the season opener with Spaulding, finished with a three-hit complete-game yesterday, allowing the Astros three hits and a walk while fanning seven.
And simply put, he had to be that good the way that Astros southpaw Andrew Herlihy had been stonewalling the Timberlane lineup.
Herlihy hiccuped once, in the Owls sixth, and even then none of the runs were earned. With one out, Matt Grant singled and Justin Pasters’ bullet to third was thrown into right field. Immediately, Timberlane coach Jamie Fish called for the suicide squeeze and Pat Mahoney laid down a beauty up the first base line, plating Grant and beating out the play at first.
Fish then called for the unorthodox one-out sac bunt to push the runners up to second and third and, with two outs, freshman catcher Tyler Cameron made the skipper look like a genius, lashing a two-run double for some insurance down the line in left.
“We haven’t been swinging the bats well early, and that was just a huge hit by the freshman,” said Fish.
From there, a pumped-up Damphousse slammed things tight with a scoreless seventh and an exclamation point.
“The junior season is the most important and I’ve been looking forward to this year since 8th grade,” said Damphousse, who was 7-0 last year, earning Eagle-Tribune All-Star status. “I think this team can in a state championship. This is the best team we’ve had since I got here, and that’s the goal.”
Damphousse clearly put in the work over last summer with the Lowell Junior Spinners and on his own to get ready for this spring.
“I’m stronger, and I’m a couple miles per hour faster,” he said. “My arm feels much better than it did last year when I struggled with the elbow tendonitis.”
The 6-foot-3 Damphousse also had to overcome the separated left shoulder he suffered living a football lineman’s dream in the fall. Injuries to others forced Damphousse to go from offensive tackle to quarterback, a move that was very brief.
“It was awesome while it lasted,” he said. “But it definitely threw me off a little when I hurt my shoulder making a tackle after throwing an interception.”
Damphousse says he’ll return to football for his senior season, but, “I’m pretty sure I’ll stick to line.”
Until then, he and the Owls have work to do. Spacing of the playoff games would allow the big righty to put Timberlane on his back in three of the four potential battles (opening round, semis and final).
“Like I said, that’s the goal,” he confirmed.
agateHed:Timberlane 3, Pinkerton 0
agateText:Pinkerton (0): Ryan Day 3b 3-0-1, Tommy Diskin ss 2-0-0, Nate Rossi c 1-0-1, Brandon Paquin dh 3-0-0, Chris Gerossie lf 3-0-0, Rick Casey cf 2-0-0, Matt Marchman rf 2-0-1, Connor Donahue 1b 3-0-0, Andrew Herlihy p 2-0-0, Eric Byrne ph 1-0-0, Cam Riley 2b 0-0-0 Totals 22-0-3
agateText:Timberlane (3): Josh David rf 3-0-1, Ryan McCarthy 2b 3-0-1, Jameson Collins 1b 3-0-0, Jake Cameron 3b 3-0-0, Matt Grant lf 2-1-1, Justin Pasters dh 3-1-0, Pat Mahoney ss 2-1-2, Zach Downey cf 2-0-0, Tyler Cameron c 3-0-1, Jake Damphousse p 0-0-0, Totals 24-3-5
agateText:RBI: T. Cameron 2, Mahoney
agateText:WP: Damphousse ; LP: Herlihy
agateText:Pinkerton (1-2): 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 0
agateText:Timberlane (1-2): 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 — 3