Playoff Push Dealt Tough Blow as Bay Sox Suffer Frustrating 7-1 Loss to Pilgrims
In a game that the New Bedford Bay Sox desperately needed to keep pace with the four teams battling for three playoff spots in the Southern Division, frustrations and lost chances got the best of them, and they fell 7-1 to the Plymouth Pilgrims on Thursday night.
New Bedford had at least one base runner in every inning, stranded ten runners, reached double digits in hits with 11, and had several opportunities to put a crooked number on the scoreboard which would have changed the complexion of the late season contest.
The Bay Sox did have a couple bright spots in the loss, as Rafe Chaumette (Trinity) continued his torrid hitting to add to his league-leading batting average. Chaumette was 3-for-5 with three singles to bump his average up to .402 on the season. Robert Emery (San Francisco) was 3-for-4, and Elijah Brown (Sacred Heart) had two hits from the nine-hole in the lineup.
New Bedford starter Buddy Hayward (Harvard) lived dangerously for the first three innings, working around two singles to begin the game and a base runner in the second to keep the struggling Pilgrims off the scoreboard. He allowed a single and a walk with one down in the third but looked like he would somehow keep the game scoreless. On a 3-2 count with two outs, Plymouth's Elijah Dunham crushed a three-run homer to center field, as the Pilgrims finally cashed in on a scoring threat. For Hayward, it was the first time this season that he gave up more than two runs in an outing, as he entered the game leading Bay Sox starters with a 2.00 ERA.
The Bay Sox put a single run on the board in the bottom of the third, as Brown struck a one-out double over the head of Dunham in left field to become New Bedford's first runner in scoring position of the night. Brown moved to third on a grounder to the left side by Chaumette and scored on a single through the right side by Chandler Debrosse (Central Connecticut State).
Hayward seemed like he finally gained control of his start, retiring the first two batters of the fourth in short order. But the tall righty walked back-to-back batters and was pulled for Nick Powers (New England College), who was making his debut after joining the team on July 15th. Powers uncorked a wild pitch and then walked Riley Helland to load the bases. Powers buckled down and got Cam Walsh - who entered the game fifth in the NECBL in average - to ground to Brown at second base for the final out.
The Bay Sox had chances in the fourth and fifth innings off of Plymouth starter Austin Kullman, but could not pick up a clutch hit when it counted, stranding a runner at second in the fourth and one at third in the fifth. Plymouth extended their lead in the sixth off of reliever Sam Henrie (Southern New Hampshire), as Walsh singled home Garrett Hiott for a 4-1 lead. Henrie left with the sacks packed, giving Logan Maitland (UMass Dartmouth) the task of earning the final out against home run hitter Dunham. Maitland struck out Dunham looking for a huge third out, as the Pilgrims left the bases loaded for the second time - they'd do it again with Maitland on the hill in the seventh.
Along with the frustrations of leaving runners on base throughout the contest, home plate Joe Gravino drew the ire of players, coaches, and fans at Paul Walsh Field. Emotions boiled over in the eighth, as Andrew Rapoza (Barry) was ejected after grounding to second for the first out of the frame.
Plymouth added more insurance runs in the ninth off of Tyler Zell (Suffolk), with Max Flower doubling to drive in two runs for a 6-1 lead, and Flower coming home on Walsh's RBI double for the seventh run. The Pilgrims had 11 hits, earned nine walks, had one hit batter, and left 15 runners on base. New Bedford had two more runners on in the ninth, but Debrosse grounded out to end the lengthy, frustrating game.The loss puts New Bedford at 16-18 on the season, while Plymouth (20-15) snapped a five-game losing streak to regain its place at the top of the division. The Bay Sox hit the road for games in Keene on Friday, a doubleheader with Danbury on Saturday, and are in Mystic on Monday before returning home Tuesday night to face the Newport Gulls.
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