Marc Schwartz and Ali Koskoris
Keene, N.H. – The Swamp Bats lost to the Danbury Westerners 6-5 after their comeback effort fell a run short. Danbury scored the first six runs of the game to split the season series between these two teams at 2-2.
Danbury set the tone early tonight, thanks to a solo home run from Zach Shank (Lititz, Penn.) in the first inning. It was Shank’s first home run of the year.
The Westerners put up four more runs in the top of the third to take a 5-0 lead over the Swamp Bats. After a leadoff double from Daniel Spingola (Roswell, Ga.), Mike Orefice (Wappinger Falls, N.Y.) knocked a two-run homer over the left-center field wall for his third home run of the season. One out later, Tom Zengel (High Ridge, N.J) hit a solo home run to left field to give Danbury a 4-0 lead at the time. They added one more run on a two-out RBI single from Matthew Boulter (Wrentham, Mass.).
Danbury scored their final run of the game in the sixth inning off of Keene starter Kevin McAvoy (Syracuse, N.Y.) Boulter led off the inning with a double. He was then driven in after Dylan Moore (Yorba Linda, Cal.) failed to cleanly field a grounder from Kyle Wernicki (Skillman, N.J), allowing the ball to skip into centerfield. McAvoy recovered to finish the inning without allowing another run.
McAvoy’s final line read six innings pitched, six runs (five earned) on ten hits with five strikeouts and one walk. He entered the game with the second-lowest ERA of qualified pitchers in the NECBL with a 0.77 mark. The loss is his first of the year.
The Swamp Bats were stymied early in the game thanks to great pitching from Danbury starter Brett Houseal (Landisville, Penn.) He kept the Swamp Bats hitless through the first 4.1 innings until Frankie Schwindel (Livingston, N.J) broke the seal. Still, Houseal only faced the minimum batters through the first five innings of the game.
It was not until the bottom of the sixth inning that Keene got on the scoreboard. Jared Walsh (Duluth, Ga.) got the scoring started with a solo home run to right field. It was his first of the season as he continues to hit well.
The home runs continued for Keene in the seventh inning, with JP Sportman (Schenectady, N.Y.) and Fran Whitten (Westboro, Mass.) going deep. It was Sportman’s third of the year and Whitten’s fifth, tying him for the league lead in homers.
Houseal, despite giving up three runs, came back out onto the mound for the bottom of the eighth. Moore led off the inning with a single and advanced to third when Nelson Ward’s (Emerson, Ga.) grounder to second was thrown away by Jake Gronsky (Danville, Penn.) That did it for Houseal, as Jake Stinnett (Vista, Cal.) replaced him.
Stinnett immediately hit Grant Kay (Omaha, Neb.), which loaded the bases for Dylan Delacruz (East Lyme, Conn.). He hit into a fielder’s choice which scored Moore from third base. The next batter, Sportman, drove an RBI single to right field which scored Ward. That concluded the scoring for Keene in the inning.
Brandon Adkins (Proctorville, Ohio) entered the game in the bottom of the ninth to close it for Danbury. He quickly retired Brett Barrett (Keene, N.H.) on a ground-out to second for the first out. Walsh then split the outfielders for a double to keep the inning alive for Keene. That would be it for the Swamp Bats, with Moore grounding out softly and Ward striking out to end the game.
Houseal earned the win for Danbury, pitching seven innings, giving up five runs (four earned) on five hits. It is his third win of the year. Adkins got the save, his third of the year.
The win improves Danbury to 7-8, while Keene falls to 9-4.
The Swamp Bats are back in action Wednesday night against the North Adams Steeplecats. First pitch is set for 6:30 pm at Alumni Field.