NEW BEDFORD, Mass.
– Bolstered by a three-run homer off the bat of Alex Black in the bottom of the fifth, the New Bedford Bay Sox used an early lead and benefitted from fabulous pitching across the board to down North Adams, 6-1, on Saturday night in cross-division New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) action at Paul Walsh Field.
Losers of four straight against the Eastern Division, the SteepleCats (19-16) enter the All-Star break in third place in the West for the first time this season after Danbury downed Keene earlier in the night, as the Westerners supplanted North Adams in the division standings. Coupled with Vermont’s victory over Holyoke, second place through fourth place in the Western Division are now separated by only a game and a half.
Despite totaling seven hits over the course of the game, the Bay Sox (22-13) benefitted from an early three-spot in the bottom of the first before Black’s bomb put them comfortably ahead by five runs in the bottom of the fifth in their eventual victory, sweeping the two-game season series from the SteepleCats in the process.
Black led the home side with three hits in four turns, scoring twice and driving in a game-high four runs. Three separate SteepleCats posted two-hit games, but the visitors stranded nine runs and could not capitalize with runners in scoring position four separate innings.
SteepleCat starter Dan Kolodin (UC-San Diego) took the loss after yielding six earned runs on five hits, striking out a season-high seven batters and walking three over five innings. New Bedford southpaw Brian Derner (2-1) picked up the victory with an impressive five innings of six-hit ball, striking out eight and walking two while yielding only one run.
The New Bedford bullpen was equally impressive, as John Lieskie offered three scoreless innings before Sam Dodge wrapped up the win in the ninth.
The Bay Sox struck for three early runs in the bottom of the first inning, as Sean Riley reached on a leadoff hit by pitch to start the inning before Zach Stone singled up the middle with one out. An RBI double by Alex Black put the home side on the board, and Stone would score the second run on a groundout. Before the inning would end, however, Black would also score from third on a balk to make it 3-0 after one.
After being held off the board in the first two innings and squandering a bases-loaded chance in the third, the SteepleCats finally put a run across in the fourth, as Bryan Soloman (Eastern Kentucky) led off the frame with a single and later scored on an RBI base hit off the bat of Dillon Bass (UNC-Wilmington), cutting the deficit to 3-1.
But the Bay Sox got all the insurance they would need in the form of a two-out, three-run homer off the bat of Black, as his seventh jack of the year was smoked over the scoreboard in deep left to bring home Brendan O’Brien and Evan King, upping the lead to 6-1 after five innings.
After that, the Bay Sox bullpen kept the SteepleCats at bay the rest of the way, as North Adams would only get four more base runners on over the remaining four innings on offense.
The SteepleCats, along with the rest of the league, will pause for a day off tomorrow, July 22, when the league’s top players square off in the 2012 NECBL All-Star Game hosted by the Vermont Mountaineers. Five players will represent the SteepleCats tomorrow, and first pitch from Montpelier Recreation Field is set for 6:30 p.m.