Keene, N.H. - The Keene Swamp Bats used a six run third inning and take an 11-2 lead and held off a late rally to defeat the Mountaineers by a final score of 17-9 in New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) action at Keene-Alumni Field on Friday night. It was the second loss in three games for Vermont (6-6) and dropped the team back to .500 on the season.
The game started out with promise for the Mountaineers as AJ Robinson (Peoria, Ariz./San Diego) led off the contest with his first homerun of the season marking the 11th time in 12 games the Mountaineers have scored first. Keene (8-2) struck back for two runs in the bottom of the inning to take a lead when JP Sportman hit a single to centerfield that saw Nelson Ward score with Grant Kay coming home on a throwing error from Brian O'Grady.
Vermont did tie the game in the top of the second but Fran Whitten quickly broke the deadlock with a leadoff homerun in the home half of the second off starter Walker Stadler. Stadler (Glenview, Ill./Indiana) would get the next two batters in order before an error from second baseman Brett Johnson allowed the frame to continue. A walk to Ward and a single from Kay loaded the bases before Dylan DelaCruz hit and RBI single and a wild pitch brought in two runs to make the Keene advantage 5-2.
Swamp Bats starter Rob Rogers would then settle in as his offense would take over. Stadler failed to get an out in the third inning as he allowed the first four batters to reach including a two run homer off the bat of Fran Whitten. After a single to Jared Walsh, Tyler Rogers would come on in relief and give up a single to load the bases with no outs. Keene added four more runs in the inning, taking an 11-2 lead into the fourth inning.
O'Grady (Warminster, Pa./Rutgers) hit a solo homerun with two outs to get the Mountaineers on the board once again. As Rogers (Littleton, Colo./Austin Peay) settled in on the mound, Vermont's offense began to come to life. Greg Partyka (Bartlett, Ill./Bradley) drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the sixth making the deficit seven at 11-4. Then, in the top of the seventh off reliver Chad Rafferty, Vermont brough four runs across including Johnson (Little Elm, Texas/TCU) hitting a two RBI double to make the score 11-7 in favor of Keene. Ryan Horstman would then come on and get the final two outs of the inning giving up a sac fly to Rob Kelly.
Keene then attempted to put the game out of reach for good scoring three runs in both the seventh and eighth innings to lead 17-8 going into the ninth. Jacob Kremers (Broken Arrow, Okla./Harvard) started the seventh but was relieved on an injury replacement after throwing only five pitches and walking his only batter. Matt Dearden (Newburry, Fla./Indiana) then came on in relief, giving up the inherited runner and five of his own.
In the top of the ninth, PJ Jones (Vancouver, Wash./Washington State) worked a one out single and scored on Robinson's RBI single to get a run closer but Horstman would retire the next two batters in order to preserve the win.
Stadler (0-1) pitched two plus innings, giving up nine runs, six earned, on nine hits while walking two and strking out one in the loss. Keene's Rob Rogers (1-0) went six strong innings giving up four runs on five hits while striking out five to earn the win. Ryan Horstman pitched two and two-thirds innings in relief giving up just one run on one hit in relief.
The two teams meet again on Saturday, June 23 as Vermont hosts the Swamp Bats at Montpelier Recreation Field with first pitch set for 6:30 p.m. All the live action can be heard on ESPN 1240, WSKI and online at www.thevermontmountaineers.com.
Game Notes: Ryan Karl (Towaco, N.J./Louisville) hit a single in the seventh inning to extend his hit streak to eight games...Rob Kelly (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif./Saint Anslem) went 1-for-3 in the game extending his on-base streak to nine games with hits in seven of those games. With his sacrifice fly in the seventh, Kelly overtook North Adams' Charlie Law for most RBI in the league with 16.
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