Danbury, Conn. - Brett Houseal pitched seven shutout innings for Danbury as the Mountaineers feel 9-3 on the road in New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) action on Saturday night. The loss was Vermont's second in a row and their seventh in the last nine games.
Starting pitcher Matt Dearden worked in and out of trouble in the early portions of the game allowing only two runs through the first three innings. The Westerners (16-14) scored in the first on a wild pitch and again in the third on a throwing error from catcher PJ Jones (Vancouver, Wash./Washington State) when he tried to throw out Zack Shank stealing third.
Meanwhile Houseal was dominant as he faced the minimum nine batters through the first three innings. In the top of the fourth, Aaron Barbosa led off with a single but was stranded at third. Danbury then exploded for seven runs in the bottom half of the frame, showing their explosive ability.
After Dearden (Newburry, Fla./Indiana) retired the first batter he faced, a ground ball off the bat of Jake Gronsky skip under the glove of the third baseman Ryan Karl which began a string of six straight Westerners reaching base. Matt Boulter singled followed by a Shank three run homer to push the Westerners ahead 5-0. A walk and single given up by Dearden put runners at first and second with one out before Tom Zengel hit a three run blast of his own, ending his night.
Newcomer Andrew LeBlanc (Farmington, Conn./Clark) replaced him and gave up a solo shot to Daniel Spingola before ending the inning. LeBlanc was stellar the rest of the way giving up just one more hit over the next four innings while striking out seven. Vermont (12-16) could not find an answer for Houseal as they managed a total of five hits against him through seven innings.
Tom Coughlin pitched a scoreless eighth as well giving up a lead off single to Johnny Mishu (Nashville, Tenn./Princeton) but induced a double play ball on the next batter. The Danbury defense converted four double plays in the game as the Mountaineers did not get multiple runners on base until the ninth inning.
In the top of the ninth trailing 9-0, Isaac Sterman came on and got two quick outs before hitting Barbosa (Dracut, Mass./Northeastern) and Michael White (East Orange, N.J./Louisville) to put runners on first and second. Rob Kelly (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif./Saint Anslem) then launched a three run shot of his own to avoid the shutout, but that would be all Vermont could manage in the final frame.
Dearden (0-3) took the loss going three and one-third innings giving up eight runs, six earned, on 10 hits while Houseal (6-1) got the win striking out two without walking a batter in his seven innings.
The Mountaineers end a week of seven straight games tomorrow when they travel to Laconia to take on the Muskrats in a 6:30 p.m. start. All the game action can be heard on ESPN 1240, WSKI and online at www.thevermontmountaineers.com.
Game Notes: Kelly's three RBI night gives him 28 on the season, five shy of Chris Joachim's 2005 Vermont single season record of 33 while giving him 45 for his career, three shy of Joachim's career total of 48 set from 2005-06.