Photo Gallery | Photos from Pittsfield Suns-Brockton Rox baseball game
PITTSFIELD -- For the second time in a week, Brockton pitcher Simon Mathews beat the Pittsfield Suns. This time, the Suns helped him out.
Pittsfield managed only four hits off the Rox right-hander and had only two runners reach scoring position in a 7-1 loss Tuesday night at Wahconah Park.
"Their starter did a good job pitching against us, but [manager Tom Conley] said we have to do better with our approach," Suns shortstop Dan Cellucci said. "We're starting off innings with one pitch and it's too easy to make an out. We have to go deeper in the counts to make [pitchers] work harder."
With the 2013 World Series trophy on display at the park Tuesday, Mathews threw 77 pitches in 713 innings and only 12 of those pitches were for balls.
Of the 26 hitters the Georgetown-bound right hander faced, 23 of them saw first-pitch strikes. Only three hitters for the Suns even got a two-ball count from Mathews on them -- Jeff McGarry had a 2-1 count before flying out in the fourth and a 2-2 count before looking at strike three in the seventh and Brenden Geary hit a 2-0 pitch and reached on an error.
Pittsfield's Gary Tesch went 4 for 4, and three of them didn't get out of the infield.
After giving up two hits in the top of the first inning, Mathews retired the next seven batters he faced and 15 of 16 before Tesch's third infield single in the sixth inning.
Mathews did not walk a batter and struck out five Suns.
Since registering a no-decision in his first start for Brockton, the former Temple University righty has won four straight games. He has yet to give up more than two earned runs in any of his five starts. The 713 innings accounted for Mathews' longest outing of the season.
"The most impressive thing is after it was all said and done, he only threw  balls. He was all over the [strike] zone," Rox manager Bryan Stark said. "All three of his pitches were working for strikes. The hits they did have were infield and one flair.
"If we didn't have a pitch count, we would have kept rolling with him, that's for sure."
Conley concurred that Mathews was the difference in the game, but also laid some of the pitcher's success at the guys in his batting order.
"He was really good tonight, but we made it really easy on him," Conley said. "We were getting in hitters' counts, and rolling over balls or popping up and not being able to drive the ball.
"Even early on, in the first pitch, we weren't getting the right pitches to hit and drive. We have to be able to be comfortable and hit later in the counts."
Pittsfield starter Phil Reese (1-1) got credit for a quality start, giving up three runs (two earned) on seven hits in six innings. The righty from Holy Cross walked two and struck out four.
He gave up two runs on two hits and an error in the first inning but held the Rox scoreless until Max Ponzurick hit an 0-2 pitch over the wall just to the right of the bullpens in left field. It was Ponzurick's second homer of the year.
The Suns scored their only run in the first on a pair of singles and a McGarry sacrifice fly.
Brockton erupted for four runs on four hits in the seventh against reliever Blake Drew, but Lenox's Austin Salnitis shut the Rox down. The left-hander extended his season-long shutout streak to 823 innings. He walked one and struck out 1. Jordan Barbarotta of Pittsfield threw a scoreless ninth.
Brockton 200 100 400 --7 13 2
Pittsfield 100 000 000 --1 5 3
Mathews (7 1/3), Bruemmel (2/3), King (1) and Freiday. Reese (6), Drew (2/3), Salnitis (1 1/3), Barbarotta (1) and Reynolds. W--Mathews (4-0). L--Reese (1-1). 2B--B 2 (Bauk, Johnson). HR--B 1 (Ponzurick).
To reach Howard Herman:
or (413) 496-6253.
On Twitter: @howardherman.