DERRY — Like an engine that’s hard to start, it took the Pinkerton Academy of Derry baseball team a while to get going Thursday.
Third-seeded Pinkerton and 14th-seeded Manchester Central were tied through four innings, but the Astros scored five runs in the fifth and five more in the sixth to post an 11-1 triumph in the Division I tournament’s preliminary round.
The game ended via the 10-run rule when Pinkerton right fielder Chase Spears drove in two runs with a two-out triple in the bottom of the sixth.
“I think there were some nerves,” Pinkerton coach Steve Campo said. “Even though we had a lot of guys returning from our playoff team last year, it still takes a little bit to get comfortable in big games like this.”
Pinkerton seemed to get comfortable in the fifth, when it sent 10 batters to the plate against Central starting pitcher Collin Duffley. Three of the five runs Pinkerton scored in the inning came on a passed ball or a wild pitch.
The Astros added five more in the sixth, an inning that featured three walks and a hit batter.
“Collin is a tremendous pitcher,” Central coach Kevin O’Leary said. “Even the best pitchers don’t pitch great all the time. He was unbelievable through the first four, and I don’t think anything changed on his end. They just started to hit him. They’re a good ball club.”
Pinkerton, which reached the Division I semifinals last season, improved its record to 14-6 and will face either sixth-seeded Spaulding of Rochester or 11th-seeded Exeter in Saturday’s quarterfinals. That game will be played in Derry.
Central, a team with nine seniors on its roster, completed its season with a 7-12 record.
Spears, Pinkerton’s No. 8 hitter, had three hits in the victory. The Astros also received two hits from second baseman Tom Diskin.
Central collected each of its three hits against Pinkerton starter Chris Gerossie, who was pulled from the mound with two outs in the second inning. Gerossie walked four.
Sophomore John Polichetti replaced Gerossie and retired 10 of the 11 batters he faced (one walk).
“Chris was struggling to get his curveball over early, and that’s been his out pitch the whole year,” Campo said. “Central’s a good fastball hitting team. You’re not going to get too many fastballs by them. Went with Polichetti because he’s been known this year for his offspeed stuff.
“I thought John did a great job. Chris will be in the bullpen next game. He’ll close if we need him.”
Central took a 1-0 lead in the third, when Duffley’s single scored Andrew Leiter from second. Leiter singled earlier in the inning.
Catcher Tim Tetrault had Central’s only other hit, a single in the first.
Pinkerton tied the game in the bottom of the third before it scored 10 runs in the final two innings.
“Duffley’s a heckuva pitcher,” Campo said. “We just finally relaxed and put the barrel on the ball.”