Futures League: Pittsfield Suns falter late in 9-7 home loss to Seacoast
PITTSFIELD -- The Pittsfield Suns took a six-run lead into the top of the seventh, and manager Tom Conley said he was feeling pretty comfortable.
"You have to. It's a wood bat league with college kids out there," he said. "Six runs is more than enough."
It wasn't on this sweltering Sunday afternoon, as visiting Seacoast scored eight times in the seventh inning and held the Suns off for a 9-7 win at Wahconah Park.
The Suns scored seven runs on 11 hits and had only two 1-2-3 innings in the game. Ryan Olmo went 3 for 3 with two RBI to pace the Suns.
The Mavericks sent 12 batters to the plate in the seventh inning, scoring those eight runs on five hits, three walks and a costly error.
"We just didn't throw strikes and it's been a problem all year," said Conley, whose pitchers walked seven batters in the game. "That's what it comes down to."
Five of those walks were given up by starter Aaron Plunkett, who walked the leadoff hitter twice in 61 3 innings and gave up two other leadoff singles. Three times, he escaped without damage. The left-hander from UMass wasn't as lucky the fourth time.
Plunkett walked Brendan Mannion to lead off the seventh, gave up a single to T.J. Lynch and struck Drew Hacker out. The third strike was Plunkett's 100th pitch, and by Futures League rules, his day was done.
"He was tough on our lefties. He kind of forced us to make a couple of moves late in the game to try and get our left-handed hitters out of the game," Seacoast manager Dave Adam said. "It seemed like we didn't have a chance, lefty-on-lefty, against him."
Thulani Denaro came out of the bullpen for the Suns and walked Mike Mastroberti on a 3-2 pitch. James Nevant's infield single off of Denaro's glove plated the first run and when the left-hander from UMass Lowell walked Rob Hogenkamp on four pitches, Conley had seen enough.
In came Mike Geannelis and almost got out of the jam. He got Billy Gonzalez to ground to short, but Zach Goldstein's throw sailed over second baseman Frank Crinella's head. Instead of one out or a possible double play, two runs scored and the Mavericks were still alive.
After Buck McCarthy flied to center, Victor Sorrento hit a two-run single off the glove of a diving Crinella. Mannion and Lynch followed with a two-run double, putting the seventh and eighth runs across the plate.
Geannelis, who came into the game having not given up a run in three outings, was tagged for the loss. In 22 3 innings, he gave up four runs -- one earned -- on six hits.
"I think that double-play ball was big," said Adam. "The kid threw it away and they missed another ball. We had a couple of key hits too. It all works together. That's baseball and we'll take it."
Despite the body blow of the seventh, the Suns were never out of the game until the end. They had a runner in scoring position in the seventh and scored a run in the ninth, but couldn't catch up.
"We had a similar game to this at [the College of Charleston] against Western Carolina. We had an eight-run inning to pick us apart," Pittsfield center fielder Morgan Phillips said. "It all goes back to the simple things. We have to make the defensive plays and we can't walk as many people as we do."
Plunkett's quality start was lost somewhat in the Suns' disappointing finish.
The lefty came into the game with a 2-0 record and had yet to give up his first run. He pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the second inning, but was otherwise in control through six.
In those first six innings, Seacoast got leadoff hitters on base three times. One was wiped out on a double play and another was picked off.
"It's nothing any pitcher wants to do," he said. "My defense played pretty well behind me, which is always good."
Shane Beauchemin, the former Suns pitcher, who threw 72 3 innings of shutout baseball at Wahconah Park on June 15, gave up six runs on eight hits in six innings, but still got the win.
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