Montpelier, Vt. - The Vermont Mountaineers (18-21) clinched a 2012 playoff spot with an 8-5 win over Holyoke in New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) action on Tuesday night. The victory snapped a five game losing streak for Vermont who will make the postseason for the second straight year and eighth time in their ten year history.
The Blue Sox (16-24) jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first as starter Richie Ochoa gave up a lead off single to Jordan Keur who later stole second and reached third on a bunt single from Danny Diekroeger. He would come home to score on an RBI groundout from Max Pentacost to begin the scoring.
Vermont would tie the game however as Rob Kelly (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif./Saint Anselm) drove his league record 44th run of the year plating Logan Pierce in the bottom of the first. The game stayed deadlocked until the the top of the third.
Ochoa (Friday Harbor, Wash./Washington State) struggled with control walking the first two batters he faced before striking out Phil Mosey for the first out of the inning. After an RBI single from Pentecost pushed Holyoke ahead 2-1, Ochoa then walked Adam Norton to load the bases. He would be removed from the game in favor of Matt McAllister who retired the next two batters in order leaving the bases loaded.
Holyoke starter Brandon Thomas set down eight Mountaineers in a row going into the bottom of the fourth where Kelly singled to begin the frame. After advancing to second on a wild pitch, Austin Green (San Diego, Calif./San Diego) belted a two run home run over the left centerfield wall to give Vermont a 3-2 lead, one which they would not relinquish.
They would add four more runs in the fifth as PJ Jones (Vancouver, Wash./Washington State) doubled and Aaron Barbosa dropped down a bunt single to put runners on the corners with nobody out. Barbosa (Dracut, Mass./Northeastern) stole second before coming home when Piercer (Troy, Ala./Troy) hit a two RBI single to give his team a three run advantage. After Kelly flew out sharply to center for the second out of the inning, Holyoke went to the bullpen bringing in righty Kyle Rubbinaccio. Rubbinaccio would give up three straight hits, including RBI hits to Greg Partyka and Cole Peragine (Belle Ewert, Ontario/Stony Brook) as the Mountaineers took a 7-2 lead into the sixth.
The Blue Sox, who needed a win to keep playoff hopes alive, started a rally in the top of the sixth. They would hit three straight singles off McAllister (Warminster, Pa./West Chester) to load the bases with no outs. A sacrifice fly from Diekroeger cut the lead to 7-3 before another single reloaded the bases. Pentecost hit a soft ground ball back to the pitcher as they retired the lead runner at home for the second out but keeping the bases juiced. That would spell the end for McAllister as Tyler Rogers came on to finish the inning. After giving up a two RBI single to Adam Norton, making the score 7-5 Vermont, he struck out Conor McKay to end the frame.
Vermont added in insurance run in the seventh when Green singled home Kelly for his third run driven in of the game as he finished the day going 3-for-4 at the plate. Rogers (Littleton, Colo./Austin Peay) helped shut down the Blue Sox with a scoring seventh and eighth to keep the Mountaineer lead at 8-5. Kyle Grana (St. Louis, Mo./Bellarmine) then tossed a perfect ninth striking out the ninth preserving the win and sending Vermont into the playoffs.
McAllister (3-0) picked up the win throwing three and one-thirds innings in relief giving up three runs on eight hits while Thomas (0-2) took the loss for Holyoke giving up six runs on seven hits in four and two-thirds innings. Grana earned his sixth save of the summer with a perfect ninth.
The Mountaineers complete their regular season with a doubleheader at Keene on Wednesday beginning at 4 p.m. All the game action can be heard live on ESPN 1240, WSKI and online at www.thevermontmountaineers.com
Game Notes: With his home run, Green now ties Kelly for 8 on the year, one shy of the Mountaineers single season record held by Kyle Brault in 2005...Barbosa stole three bases giving him 23 on the year which leads the NECBL and is two shy of Vermont's single season record of 25 set by Brian O'Grady in 2011.