NORTH ADAMS >> The North Adams SteepleCats' offense generated runs early and late, providing support for starter Robby Buffis in a 7-2 win over the Vermont Mountaineers on Friday at Joe Wolfe Field.
Buffis, a Mount Greylock graduate, earned his second win of the season. Buffis lasted just two innings in his last start, but he rebounded against the Mountaineers, going five innings, allowing five hits, striking out one and allowing no earned runs.
Completing the Berkshire County connection for the SteepleCats on the mound was Adams native and Hoosac Valley graduate Tanner Bird. He picked up his fourth save of the year, striking out three in one and two-thirds innings.
Troy Scocca reached second on a two-base error to start the game for Vermont. After a bunt single by Michael Osinski, Mikael Mogues followed with a sacrifice fly to left field. Buffis retired the next two batters and settled down from then on, not allowing another run.
"I just know that my team has my back. I always have faith in my team," Buffis said of how he remained composed after a rough first inning. "It's not about how you start, it's about how you finish. Always having faith in my team because I know they're going to score runs."
Despite the one-run loss to the Valley Blue Sox on Thursday, the 'Cats have scored 27 runs over their last three games. Providing plenty of reasons for Buffis not to stress while facing an early deficit.
Nick Riotto led off the bottom of the first with a single. Dustin Shirley followed with a single and Daniel Holst's bunt single loaded the bases. Keaton Wright grounded into a double play, but Riotto scored from third, tying the game at 1-1. Brendan Price and Easton Johnson added RBI singles in the second, putting the host up for good.
Holst led the offense with three hits and two steals. Riotto had three hits and two runs batted in. John Mazza and Johnson added two hits each.
"The pitchers yesterday did a good job of keeping us off balance," Holst said. "Tonight, we just wanted to be super aggressive in the strikezone. Put balls in play and put pressure on the defense,
"Then, when we got on base, we had to be relentless. Trying to get into scoring position, so we could have a single to get us in."
Leading 5-2 in the eighth, Riotto's two-run triple put the game out of reach for good.
"Robby came off a rough outing last time, so it was extra important to give him a little cushion right off the bat," SteepleCats manager Mike Armstrong said. "We've been very good at scoring runs early when the pitching hasn't been great. ... We've been good at getting to pitchers, which gives us momentum for the rest of the game and for the pitchers."
Playing in the first of three straight home games, C.J. Price gave the 'Cats a nice outing behind the plate in his first appearance at catcher. Price reached base twice, scored two runs and had an RBI. He threw out a runner trying to steal second in the seventh inning as well. Armstrong said having flexability at catcher with a possible three-man rotation at backstop will be crucial as the season progresses and the weather gets warmer.
North Adams will face the Sanford Mainers tonight at 6:30 p.m.
Contact Akeem Glaspie at 413-496-6252