Danbury, Conn. - The Danbury Westerners had an offensive explosion at home that featured two homeruns while starting pitcher Brett Houseal pitched seven solid innings as they defeated the Vermont Mountaineers 12-9 in New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) action on Satuday night. The loss was the third straight for Vermont (10-12) who could not get a win on their three game road trip.
Danbury's onslaught began in the first inning as Brad Schnelle (Moon Township, Pa./Seton Hill) could not get out of the inning facing nine batters, giving up four runs, before being pulled. After issuing a lead off walk, Schnelle hit a batter and gave up an RBI double to Mike Orefice. On the play, two Westerners attempted to score with Daniel Spingola coming home just ahead of the play while Zach Shank was tagged out. Orefice moved to third on the throw and scored on Andrew Garner's sacrifice fly. With two outs, Schnelle then gave up a walk, single and hit by pitch to load the bases. He gave up an RBI single to make the contest 3-0 Danbury before hitting Michael Thomas with the bases loaded forcing in another run. Richie Ochoa would be called upon and promptly struck out Spingola for the final out of the inning.
Ochoa (Friday Harbour, Wash./Washington State) worked well in relief before meeting trouble in the third as Scott Hagan launched a three run homerun to make it 7-0 Danbury. He would then follow by striking out the next four batters including the first two of the fourth as he allowed just one hit in the rest of his appearance.
Brett Houseal shut things down throughout the night for Danbury (11-13) as he did not allow a run through five innings. In the top of the sixth Brett Johnson reached on a fielding error with one out before Greg Partyka (Bartlett, Ill./Bradley) launched an opposite field homer to break the shutout and make it 7-2 Westerners.
In the bottom of the sixth, Corey MacDonald looked to be settling in for his second relief inning getting the first out on a fly ball to center. What followed were three straight hits, including an RBI single from Orefice to make it a six run advantage. MacDonald (Davis, Calif./Hawaii) struck out the next batter to put runners on second and third with two outs and then issued an intentional walk to Tom Zengel to load the bases. On the very next pitch, Jake Gronsky smashed a grand slam to straight away centerfield blowing the game open with a 12-2 Danbury lead.
Again the Mountaineers would try to find a comeback trail as Casey Brighton (Hyde Park, Vt./SUNY-Plattsburgh) led off with a single followed by a walk from Johnson (Little Elm, Texas/TCU) off reliever Isaac Sterman. A double from PJ Jones (Vancouver, Wash./Washington State) brought in Brighton before Partyka struck out to put runners at second and third with two outs. Both Ryan Karl and Cole Peragine (Vernon Hills, Ill./Stony Brook) hit RBI singles to cut the lead to 12-5 before Karl (Towaco, N.J./Louisville) was thrown out trying to steal third to end the inning.
In the top of the ninth, Erik Luksis allowed a lead off single to Johnny Mishu (Nashville, Tenn./Princeton) and scored as Michael White (East Orange, N.J./Louisville) hammered a two run blast of his own cutting the deficit to 12-7. After getting the next two batters in order, Johnson singled to keep the game alive before PJ Jones drilled a two run homer making it only a three run game. Partyka followed with a soft groundout to second to end the game as a ninth inning rally again fell short for Vermont.
Houseal (5-1) went seven innings giving up two unearned runs on six hits, striking out six as well. Schnelle (1-3) lost his third straight game going just two-thirds of an inning allowing four runs on three hits. He did hit three batters in the inning and walked two.
Vermont takes Sunday off before returning home for the first of three straight games at Montpelier Recreation Field on Monday July 9, when they host the Keene Swamp Bats. All game action can be heard live on ESPN 1240, WSKI and online at www.thevermontmountaineers.com