NORTH ADAMS, Mass.
– The Holyoke Blue Sox built an early 10-run lead that proved to be too much to overcome, as North Adams fell, 10-3, in the two team’s regular-season series finale in New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) Western Division action on Sunday night at Joe Wolfe Field.
Thanks in part to 10 runs on 10 hits through the first two innings, the Blue Sox (15-23) kept their playoff chances alive with a must-win game on Sunday night, while the SteepleCats (21-18) saw their deficit in the race for second place in the West shrink to two games by virtue of the loss.
Chris O’Hare (1-3) was brilliant through seven innings, striking out a season-high 11 batters while working around six hits and an unearned run while walking just two. Drew Duncan earned the hold with two innings of relief, yielding two earned runs on five hits with two strikeouts.
Holyoke managed to limit Tyler Gebler (Rutgers) to his shortest outing of the year, as the Rutgers righty lasted only 1.1 innings while being rung up for seven earned runs on six hits while walking two and striking out none.
After falling behind by three runs on a two-run blast by Connor Spencer in the first, the Blue Sox put the game out of reach with seven more runs in the second. Joel Klock came in to score the first of seven runs on an RBI groundout before Phil Mosey singled home Rocco Gondek later in the inning after Bubba Baroniel (Nova Southeastern) relieved Gebler in the middle of an at-bat.
The bad got worse quickly, as Holyoke added to its cushion as Max Pentecost poked an RBI single to score Danny Diekroeger before Connor McKay poked a two-run double to up the edge to 9-0. Klock would single home McKay to round out the scoring in the second.
North Adams got a run back in the bottom of the third, as Jeff Roy (URI) reached on a one-out double and came in to score on an error to cut the deficit to 10-1.
That would be the closet the home side would get to until the eighth inning, as both O’Hare and Duncan kept the ‘Cats off the board from the fourth inning through the seventh.
Finally, in the eighth, North Adams would put on two runs against Duncan, as Sheehan Planas-Arteaga (Barry) would single home Brett Clements (Nova Southeastern) before Dillon Bass (UNC-Wilmington) blooped an RBI single to drive home Planas-Arteaga.
But that would be it for the home side, as North Adams lined into a double play with two runners on and nobody out in the ninth before Duncan struck out the final batter of the game.
In addition to Baroniel, the SteepleCats saw scoreless innings of relief worked by Will Klausing (UT-Pan American) and NECBL Western Division All-Star Matt Longfield (Villanova), as the latter tied the single-season NECBL pitching appearances record by virtue of his 26th appearance of the year.
The SteepleCats will enjoy an off day before a pivotal two-game afternoon/evening in the state of Connecticut on Tuesday, July 31. First, North Adams will travel to Mystic to take on the Schooners in a makeup game set for 12:30 p.m. at Fitch High School.
Then, the SteepleCats will round out their day in the Constitution State with a huge Western Division showdown at Danbury, with first pitch from Rogers Park set for 6:30 p.m.