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Dubuque shines in debut as Red Raiders top North Middlesex
Fitchburg senior transfer Brandon Dubuque went 51/3 innings Wednesday, giving up three hits -- two in his final frame of work -- while striking out seven on 78 pitches, and even contributed with the bat as the Red Raiders beat host North Middlesex Regional, 6-2, at Schoppe Field. Fitchburg will host Bromfield Friday, while NM is at Clinton today. Fitchburg head coach Ray Cosenza was pleased with the performance of Dubuque, who came to FHS from Somerville. The crafty righty changed speeds well, all while utilizing a breaking ball to great effect. "He did a great job. I mean, he's been working on getting his pitch count up; he had thrown enough. He was in the high 70s, and that's why we made the move, but he had good stuff," Cosenza said. "He hit the ball really well. He's been a pleasure to have; you know to come out of nowhere, and he's done a great job." While the Red Raider bats churned out nine hits, they were also aided by six errors behind NM starter Pat Aubuchon (61/3 IP, 9 Ks, 3 BB, 4 ER). That first error came in the top of the first. Anthony Silverio had walked and took second before the trailing runner found himself erased on a 4-6 fielder's choice off Dubuque's bat. But the throw on the turn went askew, allowing Silverio to come in. Mike Cooper then drove Dubuque in with a seeing eye single right through the box, giving the Red and Gray a 2-0 lead. "We got lucky a little bit, but then we able to capitalize on those," Cosenza said. "But I think, to me, the key was we played very good defense, and made some good plays when we had to. And that's what we are. To get six runs off Pat Aubuchon, one of the toughest guys we're going to see. "First game of the year, he had us guessing." "We made some rookie mistakes in the field," said longtime NM coach Tom Bartelson. "That killed us today. They hit the ball very well. I mean, hats off to them." Pitching with the lead, Dubuque only walked one and carried a no hitter into the fourth. He retired the first two hitters in the fourth before clean-up hitter Joe Murphy ripped a 1-2 flare to left. He went to third on an error on a pick-off throw, but Dubuque stranded him there. Fitchburg had taken a 3-0 lead in the top of the third. With Silverio on second after reaching on an error and moving up 90 feet on a passed ball, Zach Scott moved him to third on a base hit to left. And after Scott swiped second cleanly, Dubuque brought Silverio in with an infield hit that the North Middlesex shortstop dove to stop it from going into the outfield. NM managed to score a pair in the home half of the sixth and drive Dubuque from the bump in the process. With one out, the Patriots rallied: Dan Abbott had singled to left-center before he went to third on Aubuchon's single to right. That was Dubuque's last pitch of the game, and reliever Gabriel Johnson would go 2-1 before Murphy hit a sac fly to right, bringing in Abbott and moving Aubuchon all the way to third. The senior then scored on a balk, but Johnson managed to get out of the jam. FHS then plated three insurance runs in the top of the seventh, with Scott, Dubuque -- who remained in the ballgame as the first baseman -- and Sammy Robichaud all scored off NM reliever Abbott.
   
Author: Sean Sweeney