NORTH ADAMS -- North Adams Steeplecats manager Chris Cates pushed all the right buttons in late-game situations on Friday night at Joe Wolfe Field and it paid off with a 5-4 victory over Valley Blue Sox.
Pinch-hitter Ramon Valdez moved pinch-runner Todd Juliano into scoring position, and pinch-hitter Luke Maglich drove in the game-winning run in the ninth inning, giving North Adams a 5-4 win over Valley on Friday.
"It’s tough because I thought all our guys played really well, and I didn’t want to take anyone out of the starting lineup," Cates said. "Something I was taught as a young manager is to go with what the matchups give."
The matchup called for the lefty Maglich to enter the game to face Blue Sox righty Kyle Rasmussen. He came through, driving a pitch into right field to score Juliano.
"This is what it’s all about," Maglich said. "Growing up I always envisioned getting a clutch hit in ninth inning. You’ve got to stay focused even when you’re not playing."
The win moved North Adams to one a game above .500 at 5-4 to 2-1 on the season against Valley. Christian Torres earned the win after entering with one out in the seventh for starter Shaefer Shepard.
Shepard rebounded from a shaky first inning where a leadoff double came around the score on a wild pitch. After the first, he did not allow another run, striking out six in 7 1/3 innings. His ability to go deep into the game allowed the Steeplecats’ bullpen to get a needed rest, after three relievers combined for 5 2/3 innings against Laconia on Tuesday.
"Shepard got into some trouble the first few innings, but he dug himself out," Cates said. "He’s a competitor. He fought with us not to come out, but I told him we’re going to get the victory for him."
Shepard finished with 87 pitches, threeaway from his 90-pitch limit. Cates said the pitch limit is needed to ensure his arm is healthy, as Friday’s game was the first in six-straight for the Steeplecats.
"[The Blue Sox] are kind of like our rival," Cates said. "It’s really fun to play fun, tight ballgames. It makes the crowd more interested and the guys really focus in and play their best."
Valley 100 000 120 -- 4 8 2
North Adams 000 004 001 -- 5 7 2
Nick Lewis (5 2/3), Kyle Rasmussen (2 2/3) and Todd Ezold. Sheafer Shepard (6 1/3), Jonathan Mulford (2/3) Christian Torres (2) and Michael Hernandez. W--Torres (1-0). L--Rassmussen (1-1). 2B -- V 3 (Wilson, Stahel, Corcone); NA 2 (Papio, Siena).
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