NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- Sunday’s North Adams SteepleCats game against Sanford, Maine, was a microcosm of the ‘Cats season so far this summer: a rough start, a rally in the middle and then more disappointment.
Sanford’s Brandon Lankford went 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles and a pair of RBIs as the Mainers left North Adams with a 7-3 lead and a six-game lead in the loss column for the third and final playoff spot in the New England Collegiate Baseball League’s Northern Division.
If fifth-place North Adams is going to catch third-place Sanford for a post-season bid, the SteepleCats are going to have to win a lot of games and get a lot of help over the final 2-½ weeks and 14 games of their NECBL season.
This summer, North Adams started the year 2-6, rallied around the Fourth of July holiday to win five of seven. But after Sunday, it has dropped seven of its last 10 to fall to 12-18.
The latest loss started on a sour note, when Sanford earned a leadoff walk and No. 2 hitter Jonathan White crushed a two-run homer to left field before the Mainers made an out.
North Adams starting pitcher Greg Stone settled down from there, going four innings and allowing three hits and three runs.
Sanford tacked on a run in the fourth when Lankford reached on an infield single and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly.
In the fifth, it greeted the first SteepleCat out of the bullpen, Danny Taggart, with two more runs to build the lead to 5-0.
North Adams got its first hit of the game with one out in the bottom of the sixth, and it capitalized on Jeffrey Brown’s double to left field. He moved up on a wild pitch and scored on Greg Cavaliere’s sacrifice fly to make it 5-1.
In the seventh, the SteepleCats added two more to get within two runs.
Joe Porricelli led off with a single up the middle and promptly stole second. After a ground ball got him to third and James Ciliento drew a walk to put runners at the corners, Hoosac Valley graduate Matt Koperniak pulled an RBI single to right, injecting some life into sepulchral Joe Wolfe Field.
Ciliento went to third on the hit and scored two batters later when Alex Rodriguez hit a two-out single to make it 5-3.
But after North Adams reliever Wiley Miller worked his way out of a jam in the eighth, stranding runners at the corners, Sanford tacked on two more runs in the top of the eighth.
North Adams is home on Tuesday against Keene, N.H.
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