Last-Minute Surge Sees Swamp Bats Past Moose
SANFORD - The Sanford Mainers comeback kids got a taste of their own medicine in a tight mid-July matchup, dropping a 7-6 heartbreaker to the Keene Swamp Bats.
Things looked promising for the Moose in the early goings as their offense hit the ground running. With two outs in the first inning, consecutive hits from Shane Marshall (Webster, N.Y./Binghamton), Nick Howie (Oakville, Ontario, Canada/Eastern Kentucky), and Connor Tate (Bishop, Ga./Georgia) provided early firepower, leading to a quick 2-0 advantage.
Despite the quick start, the Swamp Bats made sure the early Mainer momentum was short-lived. The third inning saw them tally three runs on just two hits, a David Bedgood double and Logan Mathieu single, bringing them ahead 3-2.
The Moose responded in the bottom of the fourth and tied up the game in style. Tate led off the frame and tattooed a Michael Bacica fastball to left-center field, leveling the score at three.
They tacked on one more an inning later with some assistance from the Swamp Bats battery. After Marshall and Howie reached on a bunt single and hit by pitch respectively, Erik Stock (Virginia Beach, Va./UConn) took a one-out walk to load the bases. A Cristian Sanchez cutter evaded the glove of catcher Seth Caddell, heading all the way to the backstop to plate Marshall and put the Mainers in front 4-3.
Having fallen behind once again, the Swamp Bats came back to bat with a vengeance. The first two hitters to dig in singled, applying pressure to the home dugout and chasing starter Darren Williams (Maysville, Ky./Eastern Kentucky) from the ballgame.
Williams turned in another good start in front of the Goodall Park faithful, pitching five strong innings of three-run ball, fanning three hitters. He left the mound to a standing ovation from every fan in attendance.
Instead, it was his college teammate Nick Laster (Atlanta, Ga./Eastern Kentucky) tasked to bail the Moose out of trouble, and that he did. His first pitch upon entry resulted in a double play which featured a Gold Glove-caliber diving stop by Sterling Hayes (San Diego, Calif./Vanderbilt) at shortstop. A strikeout of Kevin Welsh stranded the tying run at third base and kept the Mainers on top.
His teammates spotted him two vital insurance runs in the seventh inning. Howie, Tate, and Elliott Curtis (Waterloo, Ontario, Canada/Kentucky) each drew walks to load the bases in front of Jack Van Remortel (Carmel, Ind./Michigan). He rewarded their plate discipline by delivering a base hit to right field, giving the Mainers some breathing room, a 6-3 advantage into the final two frames.
Down to their final six outs, the Swamp Bats hit the comeback trail. David Matthews came off the bench and cleared the right-field fence on his very first swing. The visitors, energized by the pinch-hit home run, continued to push. A two-out hit and walk put the tying run on base and the winning run at the plate, but new pitcher Matthew Pushard (Brewer, Maine/Maine) needed little time to get out of the jam. He got former Mainer Randall Bednar to fly out to left on only two pitches to preserve his team's lead.
Unfortunately, the visitors were just getting started. They went right back to work on offense, getting their leadoff man to first following a lengthy at-bat that lasted nine pitches. Although the next batter struck out looking, a walk and single from the next two batters loaded the bases. A passed ball plated a run, decreasing the Moose edge to one.
Matthews drew a walk to reload the bases, setting the stage for Caddell whose free pass equalized the game.
Given the chance to play hero, Andrew MacNeil knocked in the go-ahead run on a bloop single to right field. The Swamp Bats got aggressive on the basepaths and sent Matthews home from second base, but a frozen rope throw from Nick Howie cut him down in his tracks.
The Mainers had a chance to draw the game once more in their final turn at bat, but they could not advance a baserunner past first base, dooming them to a tough loss.
The Moose are back in action tomorrow as they take on the Swamp Bats again, this time in a doubleheader at Alumni Field. Coverage begins at 4:00 PM on the NECBL Broadcast Network and 104.3 FM/1220 AM "The Legends" Back in Sanford with Ryan Zimmerman on the play-by-play call. Before then, head over to sanfordmainers.com and follow the team on social media to stay up to date on all things Mainers baseball.
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