Montpelier, Vt. - In a game that saw six combined homeruns and five lead changes, the Vermont Mountaineers dropped a 13-12 decision to Laconia at home in New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) action on Friday night. The loss was Vermont's sixth in their last eight games as they left the tying run in scoring position in the bottom of the ninth.
The Muskrats (10-19) began the game as the first four batters reached against starter Kyle Grana (St. Louis, Mo./Bellarmine) to take a 2-0 lead before he retired the next three in order. Vermont would cut the lead to one in the home half as Logan Pierce walked before the Mountaineers loaded the bases against Austin Sullivan with one out. Brett Johnson (Little Elm, Texas/TCU) then worked a walk to bring in a run but Cole Peragine grounded into an inning ending double play leaving Laconia ahead 2-1.
Grana would set the side down in order in the second but ran into trouble in the third. After issuing a one out walk to Vincente Conde, who was subsequently picked off, Danny Collins hit his league leading 13th homerun to push the Muskrat advantage to two. Kyle Convissar followed with a walk before Tim Swatek doubled him home making it a 4-1 lead, chasing Grana after three full innings. In the top of the fourth, reliever Corey MacDonald began with a ground out but then a throwing error from Johnson started the wheels again for Laconia as they tacked on three more runs to lead it 7-1.
Vermont (12-15) then began what seemed like an improbable comeback as Greg Partyka (Bartlett, Ill/Bradley) hit a two run homer to cut the lead to four. Austin Green (San Diego, Calif./San Diego) followed suit with a solo shot in the fifth as MacDonald (Davis, Calif./Hawaii) handled the Muskrats on the hill pitching two scoreless innings. Trailing 7-4 in the bottom of the sixth, Peragine (Belle Ewert, Ontario/Stony Brook) led off with a walk followed by a Partyka single to put runners at the corners. A fielders choice from PJ Jones got the Mountaineers to within two before Brian O'Grady tied things up on a two run blast to right center making it 7-7. Johnny Mishu (Nashville, Tenn/Princeton) then tripled and Pierce was intentionally walked before Rob Kelly (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif./Saint Anslem) hit a two RBI double to the fence giving Vermont a 9-7 lead.
That lead would hold until the eighth when Steve Ostapeck (Sacremento, Calif./Villanova) loaded the bases with one out and was relieved by Alex Haines. After striking out the first batter he faced on three pitches, Haines (Greensboro, Pa./Seton Hill) gave up a grand slam to Corey Stringer that made it an 11-9 Muskrat advantage. The homer was the 52nd by Laconia, setting an NECBL record set by Keene in 1998 and snapped Haines' 16 inning scoreless streak. Luke Crocker (Strafford, Vt./Clark) would be called upon to finish the inning getting Conde to ground out weakly.
Again the Mountaineers would go on the comeback trail in the home half of the frame as O'Grady (Warminster, Pa./Rutgers) walked but was then retired on a fielders choice off the bat of Mishu. With one on and one out, Pierce (Troy, Ala./Troy) hit the sixth homerun of the night, fourth for Vermont, to tie things up again at 11-11 before Kelly singled. After Chris Cook (Annapolis, Md./George Mason) was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with two outs, Kelly was pinch run for by Aaron Barbosa (Darcut, Mass./Northeastern). Barbosa then stole third as the Mountaineers executed the double steal. Stringer's throw down got into left field and Barbosa scored putting Vermont ahead 12-11 going into the top of the ninth.
With a one run lead, Vermont turned to starter Casey Delgado to get the save. Delgado (Miami, Fla./Austin Peay) gave up a single and a double to lead off the inning putting runners on second and third with no outs. A wild pitch brought home Conde to tie the score at 12 apiece and put the go ahead run on third. After walking Regan Flaherty on a full count, Delgado struck out Convissar and gave an intentional pass to Swatek loading the bases. Donny Duschinsky, who pinch hit in the eighth and struck out, worked a walk to bring the go ahead run home for Laconia. Delgado proceeded to strike out the next two batters to end the inning.
In the bottom of the ninth, closer Nic Mannupelli reitred the first two Mountaineers in order before O'Grady walked and stole second to put the tying run in scoring position. Mishu then put up a lengthy battle but struck out swinging on a full count to end the game.
Delgado (1-2) took the loss giving up two runs on two hits, walking three and striking out three in his only inning while Thomas Kriss (2-1) got the win for Laconia getting the final two outs of the eighth allowing one run. Mannupelli earned his sixth save of the summer allowing just a walk in the bottom of the ninth.
Vermont now goes on the road for their next two games as they travel to Danbury, Conn. to take on the Westerners on Saturday July 14, at Rogers Park. All game action can be heard on ESPN 1240, WSKI and online at www.thevermontmountaineers.com
Game Notes: The Mountaineers as a team stole three bases giving them a league high 86 on the summer...Rob Kelly's two RBI give him 25 for the year, two shy of tying the Mountaineers single season record set by Chris Joachim ('05) and Willy Carmona ('10) while also giving him 42 for his Vermont career.