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Mainers Close out SteepleCats to Finish Season Strongly

August 2, 2019 - New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) - Sanford Mainers News Release

SANFORD - On the last day of the 2019 NECBL season, the Mainers exorcised their North Adams demons and defeated the SteepleCats 8-5 to finish the year on a high note.

The offense got started right away for the Moose, as they were able to scratch across a run in the very first inning. After two quick outs, Shane Marshall (Webster, N.Y./Binghamton), who received the 2019 Neil Olson General Manager's Award during the pregame ceremonies, drew a four-pitch walk and promptly moved up two bases on an errant pickoff throw. A wild pitch moments later sent Marshall home and put the hosts up 1-0.

Both teams went down quietly in the second before the Mainers erupted in the third. Sterling Hayes (San Diego, Calif./Vanderbilt) and Drew DeMartino (Pittsfield, Mass./Hartford) led off with back-to-back singles, placing runners on the corners for a Marshall sacrifice fly to double the Moose advantage. Connor Tate (Bishop, Ga./Georgia) roped an opposite-field to position runners at first and third base once again for Erik Stock (Virginia Beach, Va./UConn) to do damage. His slow roller to caught SteepleCats third baseman Joey Porricelli in a moment of indecision as he threw the ball into right field while trying to force Tate out at second, enabling another run to score. Another free pass, this time issued to Orlando Adams (Atlanta, Ga./Kentucky), loaded the bases for Nick Howie (Oakville, Ontario, Canada/Eastern Kentucky). He put his speed on full display, legging out a fielder's choice to plate the third run of the inning.

Two runners stood on base for Elliott Curtis (Waterloo, Ontario, Canada/Kentucky) to break the ballgame open. He came to bat with damage on his mind and moved ahead of SteepleCats reliever Joe Guerrette in the count, empowering him to swing for the fences. On a 2-0 fastball, he did just that, crushing a no-doubt home run into the trees beyond the right-field advertisement board, capping off a six-run rally and cementing a 7-0 lead.

Despite being down early, North Adams possessed no plans of rolling over. Their lineup went straight to work in the top of the fourth to energize their comeback hopes. A single from Brian Picone preceded an Anthony Clark RBI double which got the SteepleCats on the board.

They doubled their tally in the fifth as the visitors took care of business with two outs. As Andrew Pedone stood on third, Matthew Koperniak scraped out a walk, setting up Scout Knotts for a one-run base hit. Picone dug in with an opportunity to cut the deficit even further, but Mainers starter Brandon Backman (Danbury, Conn./St. John's) bore down and struck him out, ending the threat.

Backman turned in another excellent outing in his fifth appearance in green and yellow, going five innings of two-run ball, littering six hits and two walks across the SteepleCats order with five punch outs. His efforts earned him his second win and first at Goodall Park.

The Moose tacked on one more run in the sixth thanks to questionable decision making defensively from Pedone. Curtis and Hayes both reached on singles against reliever James Flahive to open up the frame, but a DeMartino lineout spelled trouble for the potential rally. However, attempting to throw out Hayes retreating to first for a double play, Pedone threw the ball away, permitting Curtis to trot to home plate and extend his team's advantage to six.

Pitching prevailed over the course of the next two innings, but with three outs separating the Mainers from a final-day victory, the SteepleCats caught fire at the dish. A base on balls and base knock to open the ninth applied pressure on the third-base dugouts although two quick outs shortly after quelled the Moose fears. Koperniak then drilled a three-run home run to deep right-center field, bringing North Adams within three.

A Knotts single carried the tying run to the on-deck circle and continued to build momentum for the SteepleCats. Nevertheless, Moose closer Jacob Parker (Monroe, Ga./Georgia Southern) came to the rescue, fanning late entrant Matthew Krause to finish off the win.

The entire Mainers organization would like to thank everyone for their continued support throughout the 2019 season. They cannot wait to return to action in 2020 and fight for the franchise's third Fay Vincent Sr. Cup.

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