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Fielding miscues foul up Tornadoes.

Byline: Jim Wilson

WORCESTER - As has been the case all season long for the Tornadoes, when one thing is going well, everything else seems to be falling apart.

Worcester got solid pitching performances from Shaun McNamara, Reid Willett and Mike Meagher, but the defense committed five errors that led to four unearned runs as the Tornadoes fell, 7-2, to the Grays last night at Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field.

The five miscues tied a season and franchise record for Worcester. The Tornadoes have now made five errors in a game five times in their history.

McNamara, a former standout at Holy Name High, made his first start with Worcester and allowed six hits in four innings, giving up four runs (two earned) while walking one and striking out one.

"It's a bit frustrating. I made a lot of good pitches and I threw a lot of strikes," McNamara said, "but I think I let their guys off the hook a lot of times with two strikes and two outs, and that's one of the adjustments I have to continue to make in my game if I want to continue to have success.

"I was overall pretty disappointed in my effort tonight, but it's baseball, and we have a game (today) and a game Sunday."

McNamara threw 76 pitches, 54 for strikes, but the Grays were able touch him up for a run on a sacrifice fly in the first inning and three runs (one earned) in the fourth inning.

After Omar Pena's second error put Sean Gamble aboard to lead off, Anthony Bennett dropped a one-out, hit-and-run single to left to push Gamble to third, and Charles Jeroloman made it 3-0 with a double into the left-field corner. Josh Colafemina made it 4-0 with a single to left, but he was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double, ending the inning.

"It's one of those things where I feel like I pitched better than the result, but that's the way it is sometimes," McNamara said.

Facing Willett, the Grays took advantage of another Worcester error in the fifth as Ben Tunius led off by reaching on a Mike MacMillan miscue and two outs later scored on a double by Sean Gamble. After Chad Gabriel reached on another MacMillan error, Bennett scored Gamble with a single to center to make it 6-0.

Worcester got on the board in the bottom of the inning on Keith Beauregard's third home run, a solo shot to center. The Tornadoes made it 6-2 in the seventh on a single by Patrick Perry that scored Dominic Ramos.

Willett made his second consecutive strong bullpen appearance, going 4-1/3 innings and striking out eight while allowing three runs (one earned) on five hits. After Willett gave up a run in the ninth, Meagher struck out two in relief to end the threat.

Since making three errors against Atlantic City on July 28, the Tornadoes' defense had shown signs of improvement. Worcester made just eight errors in its next 11 games - but seven of those came in the last eight games. The Tornadoes have made 103 errors for the year.

After Willett and Meagher struggled in recent starts, McNamara and Ryan Mitchell were promoted to the starting rotation. Mitchell, one of Worcester's strongest relievers this year, did well in his starting debut on Thursday, giving up one hit in three scoreless innings against New Jersey.

McNamara was phenomenal last year in North Shore, being named the Can-Am League Rookie Pitcher of the Year after going 5-0 with a 2.15 ERA as the Spirit reached the league championship series.

However, McNamara has faltered in his sophomore season with North Shore, going 2-4 with a 6.05 ERA in 19 appearances (three starts). Starting the season in the rotation, McNamara went 0-3 with an 8.31 ERA before being sent to the bullpen. McNamara gave up 62 hits in 41-2/3 innings with North Shore and was placed on waivers, where Worcester snapped him up.

"I was lucky, and I owe a lot to the staff for bringing me in here after my stint with North Shore," McNamara said. "I thank them for that, and hopefully we can get on a winning streak and make a run at the playoffs."

It's been frustrating for McNamara, who has proven he can pitch at this level, but just hasn't done it yet this season.

"It's been an up-and-down year and I've had some nagging injuries, and it's been one of those two-steps-forward, one-step-back type of seasons," McNamara said. "I don't think I'm pitching any different than I was last year, but I think I'm giving up about 60-something hits in 50-something innings. For a while, everything was dropping, and I couldn't find any gloves, but that's how it goes."



PHOTOG: T&G Staff Photos/MARK C. IDE

CUTLINE: (1) Worcester first baseman Yohanny Valera keeps his eyes on the ball as the Grays' Anthony Bennett dives safely back to first base. (2) Worcester's Shaun McNamara follows through with a pitch.
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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Aug 11, 2007
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