Bay Sox Playoff Hopes Dwindle on One Swing in 4-3 Loss to Gulls
The shrinking playoff hopes of the New Bedford Bay Sox came to a halt on Tuesday night, as a three-run homer by Newport's Dillon Reed was the difference in a 4-3 home loss to the Gulls.
Bay Sox starter Sam Henrie (Southern New Hampshire) was solid in his second start of the season until the fifth, when Reed's absolute bomb against the blustery breeze in left took the wind out of New Bedford's sails and all but eliminated them from playoff contention.
The bullpen combination of Logan Maitland (UMass Dartmouth) and All-Star C.J. Dandeneau (UConn) shut down Newport for the final three innings, but the offense ran out of gas, as New Bedford fell to 16-23 on the season and 3-13 in their last 16 contests.
The Gulls jumped out of the gates with a quick run in the top of the first inning off of Henrie. Leadoff hitter Tim Tawa walked, moved to second on a sac bunt, stole third base, and came home on a bloop single by Kody Hoese. Henrie promptly responded with consecutive three-pitch strikeouts to end the threat.
Newport packed the sacks in the third on two singles and a free pass, but Henrie buckled down to prevent the road team from adding to their lead. The escape in the top of the frame seems to energize New Bedford's offense, as they evened the game at 1-1. Christian Aybar (New England College) drew a one-out walk and advanced to third on a single to right field by Elijah Brown (Sacred Heart). Aybar crossed the plate when Gulls' starter Tyler Mattison uncorked a wild pitch, but the Bay Sox stranded Brown in scoring position.
After a prompt five-pitch inning from Henrie in the fourth, the Bay Sox loaded the bases with one down on singles by San Francisco teammates Robert Emery and Jack Winkler and a walk by Ryan Markey (St. John's). Unlike Newport in the third, New Bedford did cash in for a run, as a grounder to the right side by Karsten Sherman (Keiser) plated Emery for a 2-1 lead.
Henrie, who entered the game with just one start and 11.2 innings pitched overall this season, was cruising along until the fifth, when Newport regained the lead on a three-run bomb against the wind to left field by Dillon Reed. The homer was Reed's 11th of the season, placing him second to Winnipesaukee's Po-Hao Huang for the league lead. Reed was also named the Player of the Week last week after blasting four dingers and hitting .500 in five games for the Gulls.
Maitland took over for Henrie with one on and one out in the fifth and kept the Gulls from inflicting more damage, retiring Dillon Plew on a ball that was crushed to right field but got held up in the wind, then getting a routine fielder's choice to end the inning.
Maitland was very impressive on the mound, making quick work of the Gulls in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. The Bay Sox chipped away at their deficit in the seventh, as two singles from Winkler and Aybar knocked Mattison out of the game, and Brown drove in New Bedford's third run with a sac fly to center field.
Maitland's defense had his back in the eighth, as Brown and Winkler started a double play for the first two outs, and Andrew Rapoza (Barry) made a stellar diving catch in left field for the final out. Rapoza has spent the season either behind the plate or at the DH spot for the Bay Sox but flashed his leather and made a SportsCenter Top 10 play in left.
Dandeneau showed why he was selected for this Sunday's All-Star Game - along with teammates Rafe Chaumette (Trinity) and Serafino Brito (Rutgers) - by whiffing two Gulls batters in a scoreless ninth, but the Bay Sox could not muster up a comeback against Newport closer Nathan Wrighter to drop their sixth straight game.
New Bedford has Wednesday off before hosting the Vermont Mountaineers on Thursday evening. The Bay Sox travel to Sanford for their final road tilt on Saturday, then close out the season with home games on Monday vs. Valley and Wednesday vs. Ocean State.
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