PITTSFIELD -- The Pittsfield Suns had played the Wachusett Dirt Dawgs three times in this Futures League season. The Suns had been pretty successful.
Pittsfield took a 3-0 record against the Dirt Dawgs into Tuesday's game at Wahconah Park. The Suns, who had outscored Wachusett 30-7 in three games, got only six hits and were shut out 10-0.
"We wanted to come in here and hand it to them after they gave us a pretty good beating the first couple of times," Wachusett center fielder Jack St. Clair said. "We were coming off a good win and we wanted to keep it going."
Wachusett right-hander Joe Swindells, making his first start of the season, dominated the Suns through six innings. The junior from Binghamton held the Suns to four hits and did not walk a batter. He threw only 57 pitches in six innings, 39 of them for strikes.
"He was around the zone. We were taking good swings. We were looking to be aggressive," Suns first baseman Brendan Slattery said. "In the end, we were hitting balls right at people."
Take the first inning for example. Pittsfield starter Tom Darby had a 1-2-3 first and looked pretty good. The Suns got a hit right out of the gate in the first when Rob McLam singled on the first pitch. Mike Rueger hit an 0-1 pitch on the screws but first baseman Vin Teixeira looked like his New York Yankees namesake, picking the ball up at his shoetops and stepping on first to complete a momentum-killing double play. Had
To a player, the Suns called it one of those nights where not very much goes right.
Darby gave up seven earned runs on six hits and four walks in three innings as his earned-run average rose to 11. Relievers Tyler Sturkie and Tito Marrero kept the Dirt Dawgs under wraps, but the damage was already done.
Eight of the nine Wachusett hitters had at least one hit. Jake Archey, who was Swindells' catcher at Binghamton, led the way. He was 2 for 4 with three runs batted in and two runs scored.
"We hit the ball hard. We hit the ball at them a lot, but we didn't get ourselves in hitters' counts," Pittsfield manager Jamie Keefe said. "We didn't take a lot of pitches. We were over-aggressive tonight and it bit us."
The Dirt Dawgs gave Swindells all the runs he'd need in the second inning. Back-to-back RBI doubles by Teixeira and Archey made it 2-0. It was 3-0 when Matt Lerner hit a triple. The inning could have been bigger but Bobby Pease held up going around third and was tagged out as Lerner slid into the bag.
The Suns gave up five more runs on three hits in the top of the fourth inning with a pair of walks. One of the walks forced in a run.
"[Darby] wasn't aggressive in the zone at all. When you're up in the zone like that, you're going to get in trouble," said Keefe. "That's exactly what happened."
The Suns did get a couple of runners in scoring position but Swindells and relievers Nick Boutoures, Bryan Menduke and Davidson Peguero kept the Pittsfield side of the scoreboard clean.
"We've been playing pretty well up until tonight. We hit some balls hard at people, didn't make some plays that we should have made. That's baseball," said Pittsfield third baseman Travis Smith, who had two of the Suns' six hits. "It happens. We'll work on it, learn from it, and it won't happen again."
NOTES: Infielder Chad Funkhouser will sit until Friday as he rests a sore elbow. Keefe said the injury is not serious. ...The Suns will have a new pitcher on the roster by the end of the week. Skyluar Neal, a left-hander from Western Oklahoma State, is scheduled to start Friday night at Seacoast. ... The Suns and Mavericks are also playing tonight. Shane Beauchemin (2-0, 3.75 ERA) will pitch for Pittsfield while Donald Hissa (0-0, 1.50) will go for the Mavericks. ... Ryan Deitrich's six-game hitting streak ended with an 0-for-4 night. By not playing, Funkhouser's six-game hit streak is still alive.