– North Adams nearly completed a miraculous rally with three runs in the top of the ninth, but the comeback fell short, as Newport used a quartet of run-scoring doubles to down the SteepleCats, 7-6, on Monday night at Cardines Field.
Losers of three straight, the SteepleCats (15-11) made things interesting in the ninth with a trio of runs on as many hits, but the tying run was stranded at second, as the Gulls (19-5) swept the two-game regular-season series with the victory.
Charlie Law (Rutgers), the last starting pitcher to win a game for the SteepleCats 10 games ago, fell to 1-2 on the season, finishing with six earned runs allowed on eight hits over six innings, striking out a season-high 10 batters while walking four.
His counterpart, Daniel Wright, earned the win to improve to 5-0. The righty went seven quality innings while surrendering three runs on eight hits, striking out three and walking one along the way. Ryan Pennell allowed three runs in relief before Pete Kelich earned the save by retiring the final SteepleCat batter in the ninth.
Newport scored all seven of its runs by means of two-baggers, highlighted by a bases-clearing double in the second and a two-RBI double in the fourth. Four different Gulls finished with two hits apiece, although North Adams led Newport in hits by an 11-9 advantage.
The SteepleCats bounced ahead on the bat of Klemcke in the top of the first, as the junior shortstop smacked the second pitch he saw to deep right center for his first long ball of the year, giving North Adams an early 1-0 edge.
But the Gulls got to Law for three runs to take the lead in the bottom of the second, as Kasey Coffman cleared the bases with a three-run double to put the home side ahead, 3-1. The liner scored Matt Pare, who reached on a hit-by-pitch, Blake Butera, who singled, and Charlie White, who walked.
North Adams clawed to within a run in the top of the third, as Adrian English (Barry) singled through the left side to start the inning before Conor Biggio (Notre Dame) ripped a double that bounced off the fence to put runners in scoring position. Jeff Roy (URI) would single in English with a bloop base hit to right, but Wright escaped further damage with a double play and a popup as the SteepleCats pulled to within 3-2.
Newport benefitted from another extra-base hit in the fourth, as Jeff Melilo made Law pay with a double down the left field line that plated a pair, running up the Newport lead to 5-2.
North Adams got one back in the fifth, as English came in to score on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Klemcke to cut the lead to 5-3. The hard hit ball in left center nearly dropped in for a base hit if not for the phenomenal catch by White.
Newport would answer in the bottom of the fifth, however, as another double – this one by Butera – drove home Conor Keniry to re-establish a three-run lead, upping the edge to 6-3 after five innings.
Following two scoreless innings for both sides, the Gulls added an insurance run against reliever Tom Bammann (Dowling), who yielded only his second earned run of the season after Yale Rosen doubled home Coffman in the bottom of the eighth.
Down by four runs in the ninth, the SteepleCats used three-straight base hits – including back-to-back run-scoring doubles – to make it a one-run game. English rounded out his three-hit night with an RBI double to score Shane O’Connell (URI) to begin the scoring before Biggio doubled home English to cut the deficit to 7-5. After an infield single by Roy and an RBI groundout brought the game to within a run, Kelich shut the door by inducing a fly ball to end the game.
The SteepleCats will enjoy an off day tomorrow before returning to work on Wednesday, July 11, when North Adams travels to Holyoke. First pitch from MacKenzie Stadium is set for 6:30 p.m.