– Both North Adams and Laconia combined for nearly 20 runs and 20 hits, but in the end, the SteepleCats managed to out-slug the Muskrats in an 11-8 victory on Friday evening at Robbie Mills Field.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Matt Longfield (Villanova) worked out of trouble to pick up his third save of the season to help the SteepleCats (15-8) win their third in a row, while the Muskrats (9-15) suffered the regular-season series sweep at the hands of the visitors.
All but two starters had a hit for the SteepleCats who finished with eight total, including home runs from Adrian English (Barry) and Brett Clements (Nova Southeastern), while Adam Sargent (Miami) earned his first relief win of the season. The Muskrats, meanwhile, launched three homers as a team, including two from Regan Flaherty, as the home side totaled 11 hits overall.
Neither team’s starting pitcher lasted very long, as Chris Bielak (Marist) finished after 2 2/3 innings, yielding five earned runs on five hits with a strikeout and a walk. With the game in the bullpen’s hands, the SteepleCats saw Dan Kolodin (UC-San Diego) toss two innings while allowing three runs before Sargent added 3 1/3 allowing two hits while benefitting from five strikeouts.
Laconia, meanwhile, was aided by a bullpen boost from righty Tim Ponto, was tossed 5 2/3 effective innings, scattering three hits and giving up two runs with four strikeouts.
The SteepleCats managed to put up six runs in the top of the first against starter John Healy, who lasted only two thirds of a frame before being relieved. After a leadoff walk by Sheehan Planas-Arteaga (Barry), Shane Klemcke (UT-Pan American) reached on a bunt single. After Jeff Roy (URI) walked to load the bases, Charlie Law (Rutgers) drew a walk to score the first run.
Clements tacked on two more runs with a two-RBI base hit before Healy nearly got out of the jam with back-to-back outs. But English blasted his first homer of the year – and the first of the night for the SteepleCats – to deep right center to make it 6-0 at the end of a half inning for North Adams.
Laconia would respond with two runs in the bottom of the first, as Vince Conde and singled to start before Flaherty launched his first of two homers of the game, cutting the advantage to 6-2 after one.
After both sides exchanged runs in the second, the Muskrats made it a two-run game as Flaherty again left the yard on a laser over the right field fence to score Danny Collins, as the SteepleCats saw their lead shrink to 7-5 at the end of three.
But the SteepleCats padded their lead in the fourth, as Roy drove home Conor Biggio (Notre Dame) on a sacrifice fly before Planas-Arteaga, who reached on his league-leading 20th walk of the season, trotted home on a wild pitch. An inning later and up by four, Clements launched a solo jack – his second homer of the season – to double up North Adams’ lead to 10-5.
But in the blink of an eye, that lead shrunk to a pair, as the home side added three runs in the bottom of the fifth. After a leadoff walk, Donny Duschinsky roped a double to put runners at second and third. Kolodin would nearly get out of the jam, but Joe Torres would single in a run. Moments later, Duschinsky would come in to steal home as part of a double steal, and Ryan Phelan rounded out the inning with an RBI double to cut the North Adams lead to 10-8.
Both sides were kept off the board in the sixth, and in the top of the seventh the SteepleCats got a key run back, as Roy led off the frame with an opposite-field double and was singled home on an RBI base hit through the right side by Bryan Soloman (Eastern Kentucky), upping the visitors’ advantage to 11-8.
After a scoreless eighth, the Muskrats loaded the bases against Longfield – who gave up two walks over the inning – but benefited from tremendous defense as Soloman fielded a hopper and fired a long throw across the diamond, as Law scooped the short-hop to finish the game.
The SteepleCats return home Saturday, July 7, when they host Newport for the first of two matchups in three days against the Gulls. First pitch at Joe Wolfe Field is set for 6:30 p.m.