NORTH ADAMS -- It was the home opener for the North Adams SteepleCats and a Berkshire summer baseball reunion on Sunday. In both categories, the SteepleCats came up winners.
John Kinne’s infield single off Valley Blue Sox reliever Harrison Paige plated the first of five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the SteepleCats their first win of the season, a 5-0 win before 772 enthusiastic fans at Joe Wolfe Field.
With runners on second and third base and nobody out, Kinne hit the second pitch he saw off Paige to third. Playing in, Blue Sox third baseman Frank Crinella couldn’t handle the ball and Ramon Valdez scampered home from third.
Kinne, Paige and Crinella were all summer league teammates 12 months ago in Pittsfield.
"I was glad I was able to hit a tough hop to Frank," Kinne said with a smile. "I was lucky I didn’t hit it right at him. I had to make him move a little bit and it caught the lip a little bit. Luckily, it worked out."
North Adams starter Ed Voyles and Valley starter John Pryor were involved in an old-fashioned pitchers’ duel through seven innings. Pryor walked the first two hitters in the bottom of the eighth, which ended his day and led to the SteepleCats scoring all five runs on three hits and five walks.
It also gave first-year manager Chris Cates his first win after two tough losses.
"It feels great" to win the home opener, said Notre Dame center fielder Kyle Richardson, whose RBI single helped continue the rally.
Voyles had just wrapped up his sophomore season at Florida State, where he pitched only 623 innings in five relief appearances. Taking the ball for the start, the 6-foot-7 right hander faced the minimum 12 hitters through four innings and didn’t give up a hit until Joe Carcone’s single in the fifth. Of the 27 batters Voyles faced in eight innings, only seven hit balls that reached the outfield. Voyles threw 89 pitches, 61 for strikes. He gave up two hits and two walks, while striking out two.
Voyles admitted to being a little nervous when he took the bump.
"This was my first start in over a year, so there were some jitters. But honestly, I just felt comfortable and plugged in," said Voyles. "I was getting them to chase my slider a lot, and I was throwing change-ups to keep them off-balance. My fastball was better than normal too."
The SteepleCats had been held to two hits over seven innings, before scoring the five in the eighth. Kinne, Richard son and Matt Schmidt all had RBI singles in the inning. Schmidt, from Chicago State, had two of North Adams’ five hits.
Reliever Coley Bruns put the first two runners on in the ninth, but got a double play and Trey Sikes flew out to Kinne in right to end the game.
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