Swamp Bats Fall
KEENE - The Keene Swamp Bats were setting themselves up for another perfect scenario in the bottom of the 9th inning Friday. With runners at first and second and two outs, pinch-hitter Ryan Costello (So., Central Connecticut St.) stepped into the batter's box fresh off of his first home run of the season Thursday night against North Adams.
Costello, trying to get a foul tip on a check swing while facing a full count, was instead struck out and the Swamp Bats (13-10) fell to the Winnipesaukee Muskrats (13-11) 8-6 in front of 1,049 fans at Alumni Field.
It was Keene's second loss of the season to the Muskrats and their fifth loss in the last seven games.
Swamp Bats starting pitcher Joey Murray (So., RHP, Kent St.) made his first start and appearance on the mound since June 17th, and looked like his old self in the top of the qst inning. Though he did give up a single, Murray struck out Ryan Stekl (Jr., Canisius) to retire the Muskrats in four at-bats in the 1st inning.
Murray now has 17 Ks to only two walks through 15.2 innings of work.
After the Swamp Bats were retired in order in the bottom of the 1st, Rob Carrillo (So., SNHU) climbed the hill for Keene in the top of the 2nd, retiring the Muskrats in order and tossing a strikeout to boot.
Through 4.1 innings, Carrillo surrendered five hits, four earned runs, three strikeouts and a walk. Carrillo was the losing pitcher for Keene, giving Carrillo his first decision of the season in his fourth appearance.
Winnipesaukee drew first blood in the top of the 3rd inning off an RBI single to left field by left fielder Cameron Overbaugh (Jr., U of Bridgeport), giving the Muskrats a 1-0 lead.
In his first game of the NECBL season, Overbaugh finished 2-for-4 with a run scored, an RBI, a walk and a strikeout.
The Swamp Bats answered the bell in the bottom of the 3rd when catcher Tommy LaCongo (Sr., St. Bonaventure) got on 1st with a two-out single to left, then reached second off an error by Overbaugh. LaCongo was brought home in the next at-bat off an RBI double to left field by Keene native Lucas Luopa (Sr., Eckerd), knotting the game at 1-1 after three.
LaCongo finished the night 2-for-3 with a double, a walk, three runs scored and one strikeout. Luopa went 1-for-5 with the double, an RBI and a strikeout.
The Swamp Bats would extend take the lead in the bottom of the 5th. Third baseman Dom Iero (Sr., Kent St.) reached first with an RBI fielder's choice, and then reached second on a throwing error by Winnipesaukee second baseman Zach Coker (Jr., U of Alabama). The Muskrats finished with three fielding errors that allowed four unearned Swamp Bats runs to score.
Keene leftfielder Parker Sniatynski (Jr., St. Louis U) scored the second run of the 5th inning for the Swamp Bats with an RBI single to centerfield. Keene led 3-1 after five.
Sniatynski extended his hit streak to seven games, and has now gotten a hit in seven of his last 12 at-bats. He finished Friday going 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a walk.
Muskrats reliever Trevor Maly (Jr., Joliet JC) subbed in for the starter Mike Gentile (Sr., Ashland U) after Sniatynski's RBI. Maly got DH Brandt Stallings (So., Georgia Tech) to fly out to center to end the 5th.
Gentile surrendered six hits and one earned run through 4.2 innings in his first start of the year, while earning three strikeouts and walking only one batter.
Maly got his first win on the mound in his second appearance of the season, lasting 1.2 innings, giving up two hits and walking one batter.
Winnipesaukee took the lead for good in the top of the 6th, scoring four runs off of three hits. The inning was sparked by a two-run RBI double off the bat of Muskrat first baseman Michael Rothmund (So., U of Illinois-Springfield) to tie the game 3-3.
After Stekl scored on a passed ball, Winnipesaukee scored their fourth run of the inning off an RBI single to right by third baseman James Garnett (Sr., Plymouth St.). The Muskrats led 5-3 at the end of six. Winnipesaukee outhit Keene 12-10 in the game.
The Muskrats added insurance in the top of the 7th, thanks to a fielder's choice RBI by Stekl with the bases loaded and nobody out. It was 6-3 Muskrats in the middle of the 7th.
Keene started to rally in the bottom of the 7th. Shortstop Joshua Shaw (So., St. John's) reached first on a fielder's choice RBI to score LaCongo after he reached on a lead-off walk. The second run of the inning came in the form of an RBI single to right by Sniatynski that scored Luopa after reached on a fielding error by Garnett. Winnipesaukee held a slim 6-5 lead after seven.
The Muskrats' offense refused to let up. Garnett led off the top of the 8th with a single shot home run to left center field. Luopa scaled the fence trying to catch it, but it put the Muskrats ahead 7-5. Three at-bats later, Winnipesaukee center fielder Grant Meylan (Jr., Santa Clara U) hit an RBI single to left to give the Muskrats an 8-5 lead.
Keene wouldn't go down without a fight at home. Second baseman Jordan Howard (Jr., Lee U) led off the bottom of the 8th with a single shot homer to right field to make it an 8-6 ballgame. It was Howard's sixth dinger of the season, and his first one since June 22nd. Winnipesaukee reliever Jorge Jimenez (Sr., La Salle) retired the next three Swamp Bats in order.
Jimenez had a solid relief effort for the Muskrats, surrendering two hits and one earned run in two innings of work. He also fanned three batters.
After Keene reliever Taylor Goshen (Jr., Iowa Western CC) retired the Muskrats in order in the top of the 9th, Iero led off the bottom of the final inning with a hit-by-pitch. The Kent State senior has been hit by a pitch seven times this year, more than anyone else in the NECBL.
Shaw reached first on a 6-4 fielder's choice, which retired Iero. Sniatynski kept the inning alive in the next at-bat with his third single of the evening, putting runners at 1st and 2nd with only one out. Stallings struck out swinging in the next at-bat, and Costello was struck out on a full count to end the game.
Costello and Keene manager Jim Negrych insisted that Costello's bat had actually foul tipped the ball on the check swing, but umpires Jonathan Jordan and Rich Gaitane stood by their call.
The Swamp Bats wrap up a three-game home stand Saturday, taking on the Upper Valley Nighthawks. First pitch from Alumni Field is set for 6:30. The game can be heard on the NECBL Broadcast Network, FM 104.1 and AM 1220 ESPN Keene. Andrew O'Brien (Jr., Riverside City Col.) is projected to start on the mound for the Swamp Bats.
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