NORTH ADAMS -- The North Adams SteepleCats' bats started to heat up midway through the game, scoring in three straight innings after the fifth, but the team could not complete the comeback, losing 5-3 to the Laconia Muskrats on Tuesday.
Number-nine hitter Vladimir Gomez did most of the damage for the SteepleCats (4-4), going 3 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored.
"I was feeling a lot of confidence today and I was getting good pitches to hit," he said. "We just couldn't get the energy going early."
Gomez got the SteepleCats going late, but Laconia starter Jack English kept North Adams off balance early.
English earned the win, pitching 6 1/3 innings, scattering six hits and allowing two earned runs. Gomez said English's fastball was working well, and the righty worked fast on the mound, rarely giving the SteepleCats' batters time to get comfortable in the box.
"He's going to be a senior. He's a veteran kid that knows how to pitch," Laconia manager Matt Alison said. "He does like to work quick and attack the strike zone with multiple pitches. When you have a guy that's doing that, it's tough to score."
A single from North Adams' Matthew Schmidt chased English in the seventh, cutting Laconia's lead to 5-2. Ramon Valdez's double in the eighth scored J.C. Cardenas, bringing the score to 5-3.
The SteepleCats threatened in the ninth after walks to Edgar Michelangeli and Josh Delph put runners on first and second with two outs, but reliever Max Herrmann got Todd Juliano to strikeout on a high fastball to end the game.
Laconia generated offense by being aggressive on the basepaths. The team stole seven bases, and North Adams coach Chris Cates said the Muskrats did a good job of getting strong jumps off his pitchers.
Brandon Casas earned the loss, allowing four runs on five hits in 3 1/3 innings. The SteepleCats' bullpen was strong in relief of Casas, however, as Isaac Lippert, Coley Bruns and T.J. Hunt combined for 5 2/3 innings of five-hit, one-run ball.
"Brandon had a shaky outing. He got behind and cost us a couple runs early, but he battled," Cates said. "For Isaac, Coley and T.J. to limit them to one run, it gave us a chance to get back in the ballgame. My hat's off to them, because they really kept us in the game."
The loss drops the SteepleCats to .500. Other than the team's 6-2 loss to Laconia last Saturday, the team has not lost by more than three runs in any of its defeats. Through eight games, Cates said he like what he sees from his team.
"We've gave away a couple games early, but overall we've been in every game," he said. "Our team fights and they battle. They play hard and that's all I can really ask."
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