– Trailing by a run, 4-3, in the top of the eighth, North Adams blasted four extra-base hits to score three runs en route to a 6-5 victory over Holyoke on Wednesday night at MacKenzie Stadium.
Keeping true to the season-long trend of the road team winning every time, the SteepleCats (16-11) snapped a three-game skid to move to 4-2 on the season against the Blue Sox (10-16), who fell to 10 games back in the Western Division chase.
Matt Longfield (Villanova) moved himself into a tie for first place in the NECBL with his fifth victory of the season – all in relief – as the southpaw went an inning and a third and became the pitcher of record when the SteepleCats took a two-run lead in the top of the eighth. The sidearm lefty struck out an impressive four batters over his outing.
Tom Bammann (Dowling) closed things out for his third save of the season by means of a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth, as the Blue Sox made things interesting with a run in the bottom of the eighth but that was the closest they would get.
North Adams starter Tyler Badamo (Dowling) was an out away from having himself in line to become the SteepleCats’ first starting pitcher to earn a win in 12 games, but yielded the go-ahead runs in the bottom of the sixth and finished his outing allowing four earned runs on eight hits over 5 2/3 frames, striking out five and walking three.
Holyoke enjoyed five effective innings from southpaw starter David Speer, who took the no decision with two unearned runs allowed over five innings on nine hits to compliment three strikeouts and two walks.
Righty reliever Drew Duncan was in line for the win after tossing an inning and a third, but Jhonneris Mendez could not hold that cushion, as the latter wound up taking the loss. Mendez finished with three runs yielded on three hits with a strikeout, while Duncan walked two and yielded a run on one hit.
Both teams exchanged runs early and often, as it was Holyoke hopping out to a 2-0 lead with a run each in the first and the second thanks to five hits tagged against Badamo. Danny Diekroeger drove in Jordan Keur on a single in the bottom of the first before Phil Mosey launched a solo homer to deep left center in the bottom of the second.
North Adams answered with a two-spot in the top of the third after benefitting from a fielding error to scratch a pair of unearned runs across. First, Sheehan Planas-Arteaga (Barry) singled to lead off the inning and moved all the way to third on the miscue. With runners at the corners, Charlie Law (Rutgers) drove home Planas-Arteaga with a sacrifice fly before Shane Klemcke (UT-Pan American) scored on an RBI single off the bat of Bryan Soloman (Eastern Kentucky) to tie the game at 2-2.
Both sides stayed off the scoreboard until the sixth, as North Adams took a one-run lead before the Blue Sox responded in the home half of the frame.
Planas-Arteaga led off the sixth with a double off the left field fence and advanced to third on an error before coming in to score on a balk. North Adams continued to threat in the sixth, but Duncan induced a ground-ball double play and an unassisted putout to retire the side and limit the damage to only one run.
With the Blue Sox trailing, 3-2, Max Pentecost drew a leadoff walk against Badamo before moving to second on a single by Mosey. After a sacrifice bunt, Badamo nearly got out of the jam with a strikeout, but with Evan Potter converted with two outs by driving a ball down the right field line, scoring both Pentecost and Mosey and putting the home side ahead, 4-3, after six innings.
But after being held off the board in the seventh, the SteepleCats responded with three runs against Jhonneris Mendez in the top of the eighth, as Barry teammates Adrian English (Barry) and Planas-Arteaga doubled in back-to-back at-bats to tie the game before Arteaga came in to score on an RBI triple by Klemcke. Before the inning concluded, Brett Clements (Nova Southeastern) would drive home an important third run on a double to right center, handing the ‘Cats a 6-4 advantage.
That third run proved to be valuable, as Joel Klock left the yard against Adam Sargent (Miami) in the bottom of the eighth, as the solo shot cut the Blue Sox deficit to a run. But Sargent would retire the next two batters to keep the visitors ahead, and that would be the closest that Holyoke would get.
The SteepleCats return to Joe Wolfe Field on Thursday, July 12, to begin a season-long four-game homestand as North Adams begins Parent’s Weekend with a home bout against Vermont. First pitch from Joe Wofle Field is set for 6:30 p.m