NORTH ADAMS, Mass.
– Charlie Law (Rutgers) and Esteban Tresgallo (Miami) each drove in two runs apiece, but an early four-run deficit proved to be too much to overcome, as North Adams dropped a 5-4 barnburner on Saturday night to Keene at Joe Wolfe Field.
With the tying run 90 feet away in the bottom of the eighth and with one out, the SteepleCats (6-2) found themselves in a favorable situation needing just a sacrifice fly to tie the game. But the Swamp Bats (5-1) benefitted from a key base running mistake and Rob Rogers picked up his second save of the year to clinch the win that forces a two-way tie atop the Western Division standings.
Keene jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a sacrifice fly in the top of the first, but it was a three-run third inning that proved to be the turning point in the game. With the bases loaded and nobody out, North Adams starter Nick Narodowy (URI) battled back to retire the ensuing two batters, but a fielding error at third allowed the first of three runs to score – all unearned – to push the visitors ahead by a 4-0 margin.
After Law drove in Jeff Roy (URI) in the bottom of the third to make it a 4-1 deficit, the Swamp Bats tacked on a fifth run in the top of the fourth to extend the advantage to four runs, 5-1, once again.
But the SteepleCats mounted a furious charge starting with a solo home run off the bat of Tresgallo in the bottom of the fourth before the home side put up a two-spot one inning later. With a runner aboard, Law drove on deep to left center that ricocheted off the wall to score Shane Klemcke (UT-Pan American) from second, cutting the lead to 5-3. Later in the inning it was Tresgallo once again coming up big, this time with an RBI double to slash the deficit to 5-4.
Missed opportunities wound up haunting the SteepleCats, who left two runners on in each the sixth and seventh before Roy led off the eighth with a leadoff walk. After stealing to second and moving to third on a groundout, Law was intentially walked and replaced by Conor Biggio (Notre Dame), setting up a first-and-third, one-out situation.
But with Rogers freshly into the game, the right-handed reliever used a quick pickoff maneuver to nail Biggio at first. Two batters later, he induced a fly out to left field to retire the side.
After Tom Bammann (Dowling) relieved lefty reliever Matt Longfield (Villanova) in the ninth and retired three straight to work out of a one-on-nobody-out jam, Rogers promptly returned in the bottom of the ninth and set the SteepleCats down 1-2-3 to end the game.
Law and Tresgallo each finished with two hits, a run scored and two RBI for North Adams, while Nelson Ward reached in all five plate appearances while earning a hit and scoring twice.
Luke Crumley started for Keene and allowed four hits on four runs while striking out four and walking four. Andrew Grant picked up the win in relief on a scoreless 1 1/3 innings of work with a strikeout and two walks. Narodowy took the loss after yielding five runs – two earned – over three innings on three hits while striking out three and walking three.
The SteepleCats return to Joe Wolfe Field tomorrow for a Father’s Day afternoon tilt against Holyoke. First pitch is set for 4:30 p.m.