– The North Adams pitching staff accumulated a season-high 10 whiffs combined, and the SteepleCats used two early home runs and held on late to take a 3-2 victory over Danbury on Friday night at Rogers Park.
After launching two homers in the top of the second inning, the SteepleCats (6-1) benefitted from strong pitching and defense the rest of the way, as the Westerners (2-4) could only put up a two-spot in the bottom of the fourth on a two-run home run of their own before eventually bowing out by one run.
Right-hander Chris Bielak (Marist) finished allowing two runs on six hits over six innings. The Marist junior struck out a season-high five batters while allowing only a walk to improve to 1-1 and lower his season ERA to 3.48. His counterpart and classmate at Marist, Brett Houseal, took the hard-luck loss after yielding three runs on six hits over eight strong innings while striking out eight and walking one.
The SteepleCats hopped out to a 3-0 lead, as two homers in the top of the second helped the visitors earn a three-run edge. First, Brett Clements (Nova Southeastern) sprayed a solo shot for an opposite-field homer, his first of the year, to give the ‘Cats a 1-0 advantage before Shane O’Connell (URI) deposited a two-run jack into the same spot to round out the scoring.
But Danbury got back in the contest by virtue of a two-run homer off the bat of the designated hitter Andrew Garner, who launched a line drive over the left field wall in the bottom of the fourth to cut the deficit to 3-2.
That would be it for both teams’ offensive portions of the evening, as both starters and the relievers who followed – primarily for North Adams – combined to post zeroes across the scoreboard from there on out.
After Bielak left at the end of the sixth, righty Brian Hunter (Hartford) worked around a one-out single in the bottom of the seventh and struck out a pair for a scoreless frame before lefty Matt Longfield (Villanova) made his league-leading fifth appearance and struck out two in the eighth. Finally, right-hander Tom Bammann (Dowling) picked up the save after keeping Danbury off the board in the ninth to clinch the SteepleCats victory.
Improving to 4-0 on the road this season, the SteepleCats return to Joe Wolfe Field for two home contests this weekend, starting with a huge divisional showdown against Keene tomorrow night at 6:30 p.m.