Homers help Suns snap losing streak
PITTSFIELD -- The 14th home game for the Pittsfield Suns was 2 1/3 innings from finishing up Tuesday night, and the Suns had yet to hit a home run out of Wahconah Park.
With one swing of the bat, Ryan Deitrich changed that. Two batters later Jimmy Ricoy added to the total.
The two homers in the bottom of the seventh inning gave the Suns breathing room, and a four-game losing streak ended in a 4-0 win over Old Orchard Beach.
"We were beginning to think it wasn't reachable out there," Deitrich said with a smile. "We've been watching other teams do it all season. It's nice to get a couple out here."
The homers helped make a winner out of Mike RoBards (2-2). The left-hander from San Diego State retired the first 11 hitters he faced. In seven innings, RoBards turned the Raging Tide into a peaceful eddy. He held Old Orchard Beach to two hits and did not walk anybody, while striking out eight. After giving up an infield single to Matt Verrier in the seventh, RoBards struck out the side to end his night.
"I was just trying to get ahead. I was trying to go fastball in," said RoBards. "The scouting report said fastball away and it just seemed like some of the guys were getting up on the plate. I worked my movement and used the inside corner."
Jeff Thomas and Adam Krebs each pitched one inning of relief to close out the shutout, the first by Suns pitchers since Shane Beauchemin and Thomas combined to shut out Wachusett 6-0 back on June 14 -- also the last night a Suns player homered.
This game started as several recent contests had for the Suns. They loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the first inning -- and came up empty.
With one out, Old Orchard Beach starter Oliver Van Zant hit Paul Speicher, Deitrich reached on an error and Brendan Slattery was hit.
But the right-hander from Bowdoin got Ricoy and Josh Theulen swinging to end the threat, and the inning.
"It was frustrating," Pittsfield manager Jamie Keefe said. "I pulled them in and talked to them. We have to do things differently. We're getting pitches to hit, and not doing it."
That changed in the third, as the Suns got a run without getting a ball out of the infield. Deitrich was hit by a Van Zant pitch with one out. Deitrich stole second, took third on a wild pitch. Slattery walked and Deitrich scored from third on Ricoy's single into the hole at short.
The action picked up in the seventh against Old Orchard Beach reliever Dillon Ryan. Rob McLam reached on an infield hit and after Ryan Speicher struck out, Deitrich turned on an 0-1 pitch and put it into the Pittsfield bullpen.
"It was a fastball, middle in and a little bit up," the University of Pennsylvania product said. "I just cleared the front hip, got to it with my hands and got it off the barrel. It felt good."
Nine pitches later, Ricoy hit a 2-0 pitch from Ryan over the Berkshire Eagle sign in left center to make it 4-0.
That made things a lot easier for RoBards and his relievers.
It was RoBards' second consecutive no-run appearance. He threw six shutout innings on July 4, giving up five hits and one walk, striking out nine. He earned a no-decision in that game.
In this game, he was perfect through 11 hitters before Boston Langley singled over the leaping McLam in the fourth inning. RoBards wasn't really thinking about a possible no-hitter, but he admitted that took a bit of pressure off.
"You just go out there and pitch. You hit your spots and you do what you can," said RoBards. "I got to that fourth inning and I gave up the hit, so now we just pitch and go from there."
The Suns' lefty threw 93 pitches, 66 of them for strikes.
"He's consistently down in the zone. When he is, he's as effective as anyone in the league," said Keefe. "When his fastball has the movement it does, he flattened out two pitches all night. When he works down in the zone, he's a ground ball guy, and we played some defense behind him."
NOTES: Keefe is going with a tag-team starter tonight at Wachusett.
Reliever Jason Condit (2-0) will get the start and Zach Ferris will finish up.
J.J. Elseser replaced Mike Rueger in the third inning after Rueger jammed his hand sliding into second after stealing the base.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.