Photo Gallery | North Adams SteepleCats vs. Sanford Mainers
Sometimes a team just owns its opposition. For the North Adams SteepleCats, the Sanford Mainers have been a severe thorn in their sides.
On Sunday, the Mainers picked up their fourth win of the season over the SteepleCats with their 3-2 victory.
With the game tied at 2 in the ninth, Sanford pinch-hitter Matt Harris hit a leadoff double to left field. He later scored from third on a passed ball by SteepleCats catcher Michael Hernandez.
Amazingly, it's the third time the Mainers have defeated the SteepleCats with a game-winning passed ball. The first two were walk-off passed balls, giving Sanford a 9-8 win June 7 and a 2-1 win June 23. Overall, the Mainers' four victories are by a combined six runs.
"It's just frustrating," Hernandez said. "You try to do whatever you can to not let the ball get past you. The pitcher is trying to make a pitch and there's a lot of things going on. To not be able to get the job done for my team does not feel good."
"There's not much you can do to prevent that," SteepleCats manager Chris Cates said. "When you're in a tie ballgame, any bounce going either way can end up affecting the game."
The Mainers benefited from friendly bounces past SteepleCats catchers, but the Cats did not do themselves any favors. North Adams left seven runners on base, and five of those runners were in scoring position.
Cates said his team has to come through in the clutch.
"We've got to fight better and compete better, because right now we're not doing a good job with runners in scoring position," he said. "You've got to become a competitive ballplayer and do whatever it takes to get that run in."
After the SteepleCats' usually strong bullpen squandered a lead Saturday night in a loss to Vermont, Jim Voyles came on in relief of his twin brother Ed and helped keep the team in the game. Jim took the loss, despite not allowing an earned run. He pitched 4 2/3 innings of three-hit ball, striking out two and walking none.
"We should've won all of these games," Jim Voyles said. "We've got to work on late-game situations. ... Today I threw the passed ball and that was the difference."
Sunday's loss drops the SteepleCats to one game below .500 and drops them to third place in the Northern Division. North Adams has lost two games in the row for the third time this season, and Sanford has had a hand in all three instances.
Despite their 0-4 record against the Mainers, the team is confident they can perform better in their next meeting Saturday in North Adams.
"Once we get back to SteepleCat baseball, we'll be able to take over this division and we'll take off from there," Hernandez said.
Josh Delph provided the offense for the SteepleCats, going 2 for 3 with a two-RBI triple in the third inning. Vladimir Gomez also had two hits.