NORTH ADAMS, Mass. – MCLA staged a big comeback late to tie the Salem State Vikings in the bottom of the 7th, then fell behind once more in the 8th, before finally outlasting the Vikings 11-10 in 11 innings in game one of the regular season conference final for both teams.
Salem State had a comfortable 8-2 lead going into the bottom of the sixth built behind the bats of Steve Mucci (Walkill, NY), Ryan Kane (Nahant, MA) and Joe Galindo (Monument, CO). Mucci’s three-run homer in the 3rd off Trailblazer starter Cyrus Curtis (Bourne, MA) put the Vikings up 5-1 and Galindo drove in the last run of a three-run sixth putting the game seemingly out of reach.
However, MCLA scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth on four hits and three Salem State errors. The Viking defense hurt starter Alan Miner (Rochester, MA) who had only given up one earned run through his first five innings. Miner ended up going 6+ innings and surrendered nine runs, but only four earned on thirteen hits. The bulk of the damage coming in the sixth and three run Trailblazer seventh.
Trailing 9-6 in the bottom of the seventh, MCLA opened the seventh with four straight hits. Joe Parillo (West Springfield, MA) led off with a deep double to center, Joe Harrington (Pittsfield, MA) singled in Parillo, Ken Recore (Averill Park, NY) followed with a single and Anthony Russo (Marcy, NY) dropped down a beautiful bunt single, loading the bases with nobody out. The Trailblazers squeezed two more across on a fielder’s choice and a Derek Gibbons (Rochester, MA) sacrifice fly to tie the game at nine. Vikings reliever Jeff Borges (Westport, MA) pitched his way out of a bases loaded jam to avoid any more damage.
The Vikings and Trailblazers traded runs in the 8th inning and then the bats went silent until the bottom of the 11th. Borges allowed a hit and another Viking error put two on with one out when Borges uncorked a wild pitch, putting Trailblazers on 2nd and 3rd with one out. Borges walked Pat Negrini (West Stockbridge, MA) intentionally to load the bases with one out, he then struck out Steve Sullivan (Wareham, MA), but Paul Procopio (Pittsfield, MA) laced a single to left to pick up the Trailblazers 11-10. Five Salem State errors led to six unearned runs on the afternoon. Andrew Kelley (Dalton, MA) pitched well in relief of Curtis and James Greeley (Newton, MA) picked up the victory in relief. Borges was the tough luck loser.
After a three and half hour game one marathon, both teams had to bounce right back for game two. This was a much different game from the beginning. Andrew Gaines (Holyoke, MA) was in complete control for MCLA right away and the Trailblazers got four runs early. Parillo homered in the 2nd and Gibbons had a two-run double as part of a three-run third.
Gaines made one mistake and that was a three-run homer to right in the top of the sixth off the bat of Galindo. Gaines however settled down and went the distance to pick up his third victory of the season. Michael Voyer (Plymouth, MA) took the loss for the Vikings. Voyer pitched five innings and gave up six hits and four runs.
MCLA pounded out 18 hits in game one, led by three each from Procopio, Parillo, Recore and Cory Burtman (Norwood, MA). Salem State was led by Kane with four and Galindo and Ken Luongo (Wilmington, MA) had two apiece. John Ripepi (Amsterdam, NY) had two hits in game two for the Trailblazers. John McCue (Waltham, MA) had four of the eight Vikings hits in the nightcap. Game two was a brisk 1 hour and forty minutes.
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