Late Homer Prevents New Bedford from Claiming Battle of the Sox as Valley Wins 5-4
In a battle of Sox on Tuesday night in New Bedford, a late home run - that was heavily debated - cost the Bay Sox, as they fell 5-4 to the Valley Blue Sox.
Valley's Kyle Schmidt belted a solo home run off of Bay Sox reliever Michael Young (Stonehill) in the eighth inning which was called fair down the left field line to secure the win and at least a tie for the North Division title.
Starting pitcher Sam Henrie (Southern New Hampshire) was terrific on the mound for New Bedford in his third start of the season, but did not factor into the decision, as Valley scored four of their five runs in the final three innings. Henrie went five-plus innings, allowing one run on six hits with five strikeouts and just two free passes.
The Bay Sox were aggressive out of the gates against the Blue Sox, plating two runners to grab a prompt 2-0 lead. The tandem of Christian Aybar (New England College) and Rafe Chaumette (Trinity) singled to begin the frame. A wild pitch had Aybar moving to third base, but Chaumette looked like he was going to be caught up between first and second. Valley catcher Ciaran Devenney hesitated on his toss to second, and the throw ended up in center field, allowing Aybar to score and Chaumette to move up to third base. Sacred Heart's Austin Markmann singled to left field to score Chaumette with the second run, but a slick double play started at third base by Freddie Landers prevented the home squad from more damage during the first inning.
Henrie held the Blue Sox off the board in the first four innings, allowing two-out base runners in the first three frames. Valley strung together consecutive singles in the third, but Andre Marrero was thrown out at second base for the final out, as he slid past the bag trying to advance 90 feet closer to home.
After the Middleboro, MA southpaw had his best inning in the fourth, retiring the final two batters via strikeouts, his offense added to their lead on three straight singles by Tommy Seidl (Harvard), Karsten Sherman (Keiser), and Stephen Thibault (Sacred Heart). Thibault's base hit drove Seidl home for the third New Bedford run, and was the shortstop's third RBI in just four games with the Bay Sox since being a late addition to the roster.
The Blue Sox finally had a scoring threat in the top of the sixth, as Devenney singled, Marrero doubled to left, and cleanup hitter Richard Constantine singled in the infield which scored Valley's first run in their last 18 innings.
Henrie was removed after the three straight hits, being replaced on the hill by UMass Dartmouth's Logan Maitland. The righty from Tiverton, RI had been extremely impressive in relief since rejoining the Bay Sox on July 10th, and he was able to retire the next three hitters to prevent a crooked number from the NECBL's top team.
Valley loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh on two walks and a hit batter, as Maitland lost his control in his second inning of work. Brent Teller (Sacred Heart) drew the short straw and came in with the sacks packed, and the Blue Sox finally cashed in for a big inning. Teller retired Devenney on a nice play by Seidl in right field but uncorked a wild pitch to plate one run and gave up a seeing-eye single by Marrero - which was his fourth hit of the night - to give the Blue Sox a 4-3 lead.
That lead was short-lived, as Robert Emery (San Francisco) laced a double off the wall in left field to plate Chaumette all the way from first base in the bottom of the seventh. Emery was tossed out trying to stretch his double into a triple, but the Bay Sox gladly traded the out for the tying run.
Young took over in the eighth inning, and things got interesting and heated very quickly. Valley outfielder Benny Wanger struck out for the third time and was promptly ejected after arguing the third strike call. Just two pitches later, Schmidt launched a solo homer that looked to be just foul down the left field line but was called fair. That call drew the ire of manager Chris Cabe, the entire dugout, and the fans in New Bedford (along with the press box - except for Valley's commentating crew).
Tyler Zell (Suffolk) tossed a scoreless ninth for the Bay Sox, which kept their comeback hopes alive, but Valley closer Ricky Reynoso sealed the deal, retiring the side in order for his sixth save of the season to move the Blue Sox to 28-12 on the season.
New Bedford (17-25) has two games left on their 2018 schedule, as they head to Sanford Tuesday afternoon for a makeup game that starts at 3pm. Their final game of the season is on Wednesday night, as they will host the Ocean State Waves at 6:30pm.
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