– North Adams fell behind by six runs, 7-1, after two innings, but the SteepleCats battled all the way back to tie the game in the seventh before going ahead for good in the ninth in a 8-7 victory over Holyoke on Friday evening at MacKenzie Stadium.
Entering the game in the midst of a two-game losing streak, the SteepleCats (11-7) got back in the win column by pounding out 12 hits – including three by Jeff Roy (URI) in a 3-for-3 evening – to down the Blue Sox (8-9) in dramatic fashion.
With the game tied at 7-7 in the top of the ninth, Adrian English (Barry) led off the inning with a single before a walk moved him over to second. After a fielder’s choice, Roy drew a walk to load the bases, bringing up Brett Clements (Nova Southeastern) to the plate. The junior switch-hitter grounded one hard to the left side, and despite being putout on the play, the groundout was enough to score Tyler Palmer (Miami) from third, putting North Adams ahead for good.
North Adams starter Chris Bielak (Marist) lasted only two innings, responsible for seven runs and eight hits over that span while striking out two and walking two. It marked the third-straight game that the SteepleCats’ starter pitcher failed to pitch beyond the fourth inning.
Andrew Thome, meanwhile, received a no decision after allowing the SteepleCats to draw even by allowing seven runs. The North Dakota righty lasted seven innings while giving up 11 hits, striking out five and walking two over his outing.
Matt Longfield (Villanova) picked up the win in relief, tossing 1 1/3 frames while yielding one hit and striking out two. Tom Bammann (Dowling) earned the save, working around a leadoff double and benefitting from tremendous infield defense in the bottom of the ninth to clinch the win.
Both sides slugged 26 combined hits, as Connor Spencer led all players with a 4-for-5 showing at the dish, including a double and three base hits. Palmer led all SteepleCats with two RBI, while Jordan Keur helped the home side with three hits of his own.
For the third night in a row, the SteepleCats took an early lead in the first, as Shane Klemcke (UT-Pan American) singled to right with one out and later came home off an RBI base hit off the bat of Charlie Law (Rutgers) to put the visitors momentarily ahead, 1-0.
After a scoreless first, the Blue Sox exploded for seven runs on six hits in the bottom of the second, putting the home side comfortably ahead, 7-1, at the end of two innings.
Holyoke sent 11 batters to the box over that span, as Spencer started it off with a single and drove in the final run of the frame with another RBI base hit to complete the scoring. Other highlights included a two-RBI triple off the bat of Keur, as well as an RBI double by Max Pentecost.
But after neither team scored in the third, the SteepleCats took off in the fourth, putting up four runs on five hits to cut the deficit to 7-5. Roy started the frame with a single through the left side and moved to second on an error, allowing Law to reach, as well. Two batters later, Bryan Soloman (Eastern Kentucky) singled home Roy on a base hit to left, and Shane O’Connell (URI) also accounted for an RBI base hit later in the inning, driving home Law to cut the deficit to four.
With the bases loaded and two outs, Palmer came to the plate and delivered with a two-out, two-RBI double down the right field line, driving home both O’Connell and Julian Santos (Miami) and edging North Adams to within two runs.
Three innings later, the SteepleCats completed the comeback, as Clements entered the game in relief of Law in the DH spot and came through in the clutch, driving a two-out, two-RBI single through the left side, scoring English and Roy on the play to tie the contest at 7-7.
During that span, the SteepleCats received a tremendous boost in the form of righty reliever Dan Kolodin (UC-San Diego), who entered the game in the third and kept Holyoke off the board through the ensuing four-plus innings. The sophomore accumulated six strikeouts while walking just one and allowing four hits during that stretch before Longfield came in for the final out in the bottom of the seventh.
The SteepleCats return home tomorrow, June 30, to begin a four-game home stand starting with a showdown against Danbury. First pitch from Joe Wolfe Field is set for 6:30 p.m.