Montpelier, Vt. - The Vermont Mountaineers had the tying run in scoring position but Aaron Barbosa grounded out to second base to end the game as another ninth inning rally came up empty in a 7-6 loss to Keene in New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) action on Tuesday night. The loss was the fourth in their last five games for Vermont (11-13) as the Swamp Bats improved to a league best 20-6 on the year.
The game began as a pitchers duel as Brad Schnelle (Moon Township, Pa./Seton Hill) worked out of a troublesome first before setting down eight in a row including the first batter of the fourth inning. However, Keene began a rally as Schnelle issued a walk to Mike Papi and then back-to-back RBI doubles to Dylan DelaCruz and Jarred Walsh putting the Swamp Bats ahead 2-0. Jarred Walsh followed with an RBI single of his own making it a three run advantage through four.
Schnelle would be pulled after four innings as Walker Stadler (Glenview, Ill./Indiana) would take the hill for the fifth. After consecutive single to lead off the inning put runners at the corners with no outs, Frankie Schwindel hit a sacrifice fly to put the Swamp Bats up 4-0. An RBI groundout from DelaCruz added another run as Vermont trailed by five after four and a half innings.
Meanwhile, Swamp Bats starter Artie Lewicki kept Vermont in check through five innings allowing only three baserunners. In the bottom of the sixth, he ran into trouble as Chris Cook (Annapolis, Md./George Mason) led off with a double to the right centerfield wall and proceeded to steal third. After a Cole Peragine ground out, Barbosa (Dracut, Mass./Northeastern) singled Cook home beginning a one out rally. Lewicki then walked the next two batters to load the bases before Johnny Mishu (Nashville, Tenn./Princeton) hit a sacrifice fly to score Rob Kelly (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif./Saint Anslem) followed by an RBI double from Brian O'Grady to cut the lead down to 5-4 Keene. With the tying run on, Ryan Karl grounded out to short to end the threat.
Stadler pitched shutout innings in both the sixth and seventh to maintain the one run deficit before handing the ball over to Matt Dearden (Newburry, Fla./Indiana). In the eighth, Dearden retired the first two batters before giving up a single to Cameron O'Brien. Dylan Moore followed with a two run blast on the next pitch to make the Keene lead 7-4 as Dearden retired the next batter on three pitches.
Trailing by three, Vermont began the comeback trail in the bottom of the eighth against Keene closer Kyle Gehrs. a leadoff single from Aaron Barbosa and a walk from Kelly set the table for Austin Green (San Diego, Calif./San Diego). Green laced a double to the base of the left centerfield wall scoring Barbosa, but Kelly was caught off the third base bag and eventually tagged out in a rundown allowing Green to advance to third. Mishu again delivered with a sacrifice fly as he went 1-for-2 on the night with two runs batted in and cut the lead to 7-6. After O'Grady (Warminster, Pa./Rutgers) reached on an error by shortstop Dylan Moore, Karl (Towaco, N.J./Louisville) grounded out to third base to end the inning.
Dearden would work a perfect top of the ninth giving the Mountaineers a chance to rally in the bottom of the frame. PJ Jones (Vancouver, Wash./Washington State) began the inning with a bloop single and advanced to second on Cook's sacrifice bunt. However, Gehrs struck out Cole Peragine (Belle Ewert, Ontario/Stony Brook) on three pitches and got Barbosa to ground out weekly to second base for his fifth save of the season.
Schnelle (1-3) took the loss giving up three runs, two earned, on six hits while walking two and striking out two. Lewicki (2-0) got the win as he pitched five and one-third innings allowing four runs, three earned, on three hits, striking out four and walking three.
The Mountaineers return to action on Wednesday July 11, as they host the Danbury Westerners. Game time is set for 6:30 p.m. and all the action can be heard on ESPN 1240, WSKI and online at www.thevermontmountaineers.com
Game Notes: Chris Cook stole third in the sixth inning giving Vermont 80 as a team...the loss to Keene gives the Swamp Bats the season series as they have won five of eight potential meetings with two still remaining.