Division I Baseball: Arinello, Jaguars, walk off with crazy win

WINDHAM – Friday afternoon’s New Hampshire Division I baseball clash between Dover and Windham was a classic pitcher’s duel.

But it was one that had a twist — a larger than normal twist.

With the home plate umpire offering a very generous strike zone throughout the entire game, Windham No. 3 hitter Alec Arinello made sure that he wasn’t going to become the 17th victim called out looking on a third strike.

With one out and runners at second and third in the bottom of the seventh inning of a scoreless game, Arinello hit a sharp grounder between first and second base and teammate Jack Murphy slid head first across home plate, beating the throw home, allowed the entire Jaguars team to celebrate with a 1-0 walk-off victory.

“For sure. I didn’t want to go down that way,” admitted Arinello, who struck out looking in his first at-bat. “I just felt like any chance I got to take a swing to do it.”

Murphy – who tossed two scoreless innings of relief to earn the win after junior starter Jake Sullo went the first five, giving up one hit and striking out 11 – started the rally by drawing a four pitch walk before stealing second. Paul Armstrong then beat out a bunt moving Murphy to third. Armstrong took second. Two batters later, Murphy was able to score the game winner off the hard contact off Arinello’s bat.

“To be honest, I didn’t have a single thought going through my head. I just choked up on the bat. I was going to swing at every pitch that I saw,” said Arinello. “I just wanted to make contact and get out of the box as quick as possible. That at-bat really reflected on how the game was because I feel like we fought every single inning. We just kept fighting to get hits and to move runners. The second I saw that fastball, I was not going to let it get past me. I just put a swing on it and let everything play out.”

Windham (4-2) left ten runners on base in the game including six in scoring position. The Jaguars managed six singles (only two leaving the infield) – which ended up being enough for the win, thanks to the seven shutout innings of one-hit ball by Sullo and Murphy.

“Coming into this season we knew that our strength was out pitching staff,” said Windham head coach Matt Case. “We have been preaching since early March that if we can lead games 1-0 or if we can get two or three runs, our pitching staff is good enough to win those kinds of games. We showed that today. It was scoreless going to the seventh inning and hats off to their two guys as well. We proved that we have the pitching staff, throw arm after arm, and be able to go deep in games and win.”

Dover’s lone hit came in the top of the fourth. Sullo did walk two batters and hit two others, but Dover (3-2) never got a runner to third base all game. Murphy, a herky-jerky southpaw, retired all six batters he faced, to earn the win.

“Murph is a crafty lefty and we love having him here,” said Case. “He’s one of the stars of the basketball team. He’s got this funky arm motion with 17 body parts coming at you and if you watch him throw in the bullpen and all you see if every pitch is moving. He’s a tough a kid to square up against.”

Twitter: @JamiePote