Blue Sox Hold Off Powerful SteepleCats Offense For Win
HOLYOKE, Mass. —There always tends to be a theme that rivalry games turn out to be the games, and the Blue Sox and SteepleCats certainly proved that to be true on Tuesday night.
In their last divisional matchup of the year, the SteepleCats headed to Holyoke on Tuesday to face off against their Western Massachusetts rivals in the Valley Blue Sox. Tied 8-8 heading into the 8th inning, the Blue Sox were able to sneak another run and hold off the powerful SteepleCats offense to escape with a 9-8 victory over North Adams.
As they have done recently, the SteepleCats got their offense in motion early against the Blue Sox. Facing Valley’s starting Endy Morales for the second time, shortstop Joe Porricelli hit into a fielder’s choice, allowing center fielder Jeffery Brown to score from third to give North Adams the early 1-0 lead.
But Valley was quick to get on the base path as well, as SteepleCats starting pitcher struggled to locate the strike zone in the 1st inning. With two runners on from a walk and a single, a wild pitch from Brown allowed Jaron Robinson to score for Valley to tie the game at one.
After the starting pitchers held each side scoreless in the 2nd, the SteepleCats bats came alive again in the top of the 3rd. With the bases loaded, the SteepleCats took advantage of the Blue Sox errors, as NECBL All-Star Jeffery Brown first scored on a wild pitch and third baseman Matt Koperniak scored on an error by the third baseman.
However, this was only the beginning of the game’s offense, as after Brown’s clean bottom of the 3rd runs came across the plate in all but one of the next six innings.
Starting in the 4th, the SteepleCats offense kept rolling as they tossed two more runs on the scoreboard courtesy of a double from Greg Cavaliere and an error that allowed Jeffery Brown to reach first. This was then answered by the Blue Sox in the bottom half of the inning with two runs of their own, this time from two RBi singles.
With the score now 5-3, Morales dealt his way through the North Adams lineup in the top of the 5th to bring his teammates back up. Behind the momentum, the Blue Sox tied the game at when a Benny Wanger RBI single and an RBI fielder’s choice from Connor Pauly brought two runs in.
The SteepleCats offense then came back in the 6th inning, taking a 6-5 lead with a Matthew Koperniak RBI double, who’s impressive bat and fielding has bolstered the SteepleCats in both the batter’s box and in the field all season.
Yet with the way this game was unfolding, a safe lead became an unknown commodity at Mackenzie Field on Tuesday. The bottom of the 6th started with the SteepleCats looking towards a position player in catcher Tyler Serricchio to take the mound as their bullpen has struggled depth wise recently. Unfortunately for North Adams, the Blue Sox jumped on this scoring opportunity with a Ciaran Devenney two-run home run, giving the Blue Sox their first lead of the game being now up 7-6.
But as mentioned before, the environment in Holyoke on Tuesday night was no safe place for a lead. After a hit by pitch placed Jacob Jablonski on first, catcher Cris Ruiz sent a ball deep over the outfield fence off new relief pitcher Chris Mormile for a two-run home run, giving the SteepleCats an 8-7 lead.
The Blue Sox then continued their offensive production in the bottom of the 7th, plating another run to tie the game at eight via a sacrifice fly.
Then after Mormile held North Adams in the top of the 8th, Valley then scored the go-ahead run on the bottom half of the inning when Nate Cardy singled to bring in Ciaran Devenney.
With the game on the line in the top of the 9th, the SteepleCats went up against relief pitcher Ricky Reynoso, hoping to get a rally started. Yet the dominant southpaw shut the SteepleCats offense down, striking out the last batter to secure the win for the top team in the Northern Division.
The SteepleCats get a much-needed rest day before heading on the road to face the Ocean State Waves in a doubleheader on Thursday. They then return home for a Friday night matchup against the Danbury Westerners at 6:30. Tickets for Friday’s game or any SteepleCats home game can be purchased online at www.steeplecats.org or at the ticket booth one hour prior to the game’s start.
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