Montpelier, Vt. - Alex Haines pitched five shutout innings and Kyle Grana struck out consecutive batters with the tying run at the plate in the ninth to preserve a 4-2 win over the Keene Swamp Bats Monday night in New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) action. The win snapped a three game losing streak for the Mountaineers (11-12) and was their first victory over Keene this summer.
Haines (Greensboro, Pa./Seton Hill) started off the game very strong as he struck out the first two batters he faced, setting the side down in order. His offense then went to work in the bottom of the first as Cole Peragine led off with a double before scoring on a Kevin McAvoy balk. Rob Kelly (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif./Saint Anslem) then reached on a dropped third strike and advanced to second on a wild pitch from McAvoy. Brett Johnson (Little Elm, Texas/TCU) singled to put runners on the corners before Greg Partyka singled to left scoring Kelly. Johnson however was caught off third base and tagged out while Partyka (Bartlett, Ill./Bradley) was retired trying to reach second to end the inning with Vermont ahead 2-0.
Haines would continue to cruise along giving up only three baserunners, two doubles and a walk, through five innings. He lowered his league beast earned run average from 0.38 to 0.31 while extending his scoreless innings streak to 16 straight.
The Mountaineers would add on to their lead in the third on Peragine's (Vernon Hills, Ill./Stony Brook) RBI single and again in the fifth as Aaron Barbosa (Dracut, Mass./Northeastern) singled in Peragine to make it 4-0 after five.
In the sixth, reliever Tyler Rogers struggled with his control walking the lead off man before giving up a single and a wild pitch that put runners at second and third with nobody out. After Dylan DelaCruz grounded out to third, Jared Walsh hit a soft ground ball to first that plated Mike Papi breaking up the shutout. Rogers (Littleton, Colo./Austin Peay) then allowed a single to Brett Barrett that gave the Swamp Bats (19-6) another run before getting Evan Campbell to ground out to end the inning. Rogers did bounce back in the seventh giving up only a one out walk.
In the eighth, Vermont turned to closer Kyle Grana who retired the first two men he faced before hitting a batter to bring the tying run to the plate. Grana (St. Louis, Mo./Bellarmine) induced a weak pop-up by Barrett to quell the threat. He would follow in the ninth giving up a one-out single to Cameron O'Brien again bringing the tying run to the plate in a 4-2 game. Frankie Schwindel would pinch-hit for Keene and was retired on three straight pitches before Grana struck out Papi to end the game.
Haines (4-1) recorded his fourth straight win going five scoreless allowing two hits and one walk while striking out a season high nine batters. Kevin McAvoy (3-2) took the loss for the Swamp Bats pitching seven innings allowing four runs, three earned, on seven hits with two walks and two strikeouts. Grana earned his fourth save of the summer, and first two inning save, delivering back-to-back shutout frames allowing one hit and striking out three.
The two teams are back in action on Tuesday July 10, when they meet at Montpelier Recreation Field at 6:30 p.m. All the game action can be heard live on ESPN 1240, WSKI and online at www.thevermontmountaineers.com.
Game Notes: Both Chris Cook (Annapolis, Md./George Mason) and Brett Johnson stole a base giving Vermont a league high 79 through 22 games...Keene's Nelson Ward was ejected in the sixth inning for arguing balls and strikes and was replaced by Mike Papi.