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SteepleCats Come Up Short In Winnipesaukee
By John Wood, North Adams SteepleCats
11:48PM / Thursday, July 19, 2018
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LACONIA, NH. —It seems as if it’s come to the point in the season where the SteepleCats have thrown everything but the kitchen sink from the mound.

For their last meeting of the season, the Winnipesaukee Muskrats hosted the North Adams SteepleCats on Thursday night in a battle of northern division squads. The SteepleCats, low on arms, had three position players take the hill in what turned out to be a high scoring contest where the Muskrats held off a 9th inning rally by North Adams for a 9-8 victory.

Unlike the SteepleCats game prior against the Upper Valley Nighthawks, the offensive production began right away for both teams. After outfielder Greg Cavaliere reached on a walk, Merrimack College’s Joe Porricelli sent a two-run shot off Muskrats starting pitcher Mark Levesque over the left field wall for his second home run of the year, giving North Adams an early 2-0 lead.

However, this early deficit did not hinder the Muskrats. Loading the bases after SteepleCats starting pitcher Andrew DiPiazza surrendered two walks and a single, Winnipesaukee quickly tied the game when third baseman Ryan Burciaga sent a double into the outfield, scoring Mason Calloway and Regan Teegarden. The offense then continued for the home team as outfielder Sam Cochrane snagged a single that scored Brian Kelly and Burciaga to make it a 4-2 ball game in favor of Winnipesaukee.

Yet similar to the inning prior, that lead did not last long. With runners on first and third, SteepleCats outfielder Greg Cavaliere landed a single to score Matt Koperniak, cutting the Muskrats lead to one. Two batters later with the bases loaded, Cavaliere’s URI teammate Jackson Coutts stepped to the plate. Already against a dangerous hitter, the Muskrats pitcher let a ball go to the backstop, allowing Cris Ruiz to score and tie the game at four. Five pitches later, Coutts was able to barrel a ball into the outfield for a two-RBI single, allowing North Adams to retake a 6-4 lead.

After a scoreless 2nd inning for the Muskrats, the SteepleCats decided to keep their offense rolling in the 3rd. Reaching on a single, outfielder James Ciliento scored the seventh run for the SteepleCats as catcher Cris Ruiz flew out to the center fielder.

The next two half innings were relatively quiet compared to the start of the game, as DiPiazza threw a quick inning in the bottom of the 3rd and Muskrats relief pitcher Justin Pearson shut the SteepleCats offense down in the top of the 4th.

The Muskrats found they’re way back on the board in the 4th however, after Regan Teegarden sent a ball over the outfield wall for a two-run home run, cutting the SteepleCats lead to just one.

Pearson was lights out for the Muskrats, throwing a total of 3.0 innings and keeping the SteepleCats hot offense scoreless in the 4th, 5th, and 6th innings. Unfortunately for North Adams, that was not the case on for the other squad. The Muskrats sent across a run in the 5th and 6th courtesy of a sacrifice groundout and an RBI single to take an 8-7 lead over North Adams.

With DiPiazza’s night on the mound ending after the 5th inning, the SteepleCats looked to some unlikely suspects to take the hill with their bullpen being depleted. Center fielder Jeffery Brown became the first of three position players to man the rubber for the away team, throwing one in which the Muskrats garnered three hits and one run.

As relief pitcher Al Wallach held the SteepleCats scoreless in the 7th, it then became normal third baseman Matt Koperniak's turn to follow. The Trinity star faced four batters and held the Muskrats to no hits in his time on the mound.

The Muskrats were able to get their offense going on the last position player to pitch for the SteepleCats in second baseman Chad Minato. Following another quick inning by the SteepleCats offense against Wallach in the top of the 8th, Brian Kelly drove in Mason Calloway off an RBI single for extra padding to their lead.

With Winnipesaukee going to relief pitcher William Treuel in the top of the 9th, the SteepleCats had one final shot to get back in the game. After Jeffery Brown started the inning off with a single, Joe Porricelli ripped a double into the outfield to score Brown and make it 9-8 ball game. A wild pitch to Dillon Mendel allowed Porricelli to steal a bag, putting the tying run 90 feet away. Yet this hope for a comeback was shut down fast, as the next two batters for the SteepleCats struck out swinging, allowing the Muskrats to hold on for a 9-8 victory.

The SteepleCats return to Joe Wolfe Field on Friday when they take on the Upper Valley Nighthawks at 6:30. Tickets for Friday’s game can be purchased at www.steeplecats.org or at the ticket booth one hour prior to the game’s start.

 
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