Pittsfield Suns beat Brockton Rox 5-2, hold onto FCBL West lead
PITTSFIELD -- In a game between the two top teams in the Futures League, Suns pitcher Jamin McCann is exactly the pitcher manager Tom Conley wanted on the mound.
McCann (6-0) settled down after a shaky start, and his defense made spectacular plays behind him, leading to a 5-2 win over Brockton on Friday. The win moves West leader Pittsfield (22-15) within a half-game of the East-leading Rox (23-15) for the best record in the FCBL.
"It's good to come out on top in a game that's tight the whole way through," Conley said. "Jamin pitched a hell of a game. He's been doing that the whole year."
Brockton jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning, after Tom Stoffel hit an RBI triple. Stoffel then scored on a sacrifice fly after center fielder Tyler Bell made a leaping catch at the warning track.
The Suns answered with two runs of their own, tying the game at 2 in the bottom of the inning. Bell scored on a wild pitch in the second inning to give Pittsfield a 3-2 lead.
McCann did not allow another run after the first. He earned the win, pitching seven innings, striking out seven and scattering four hits.
"The first inning was a little rough. I didn't go in as focused as I should have been," he said. "After that I made sure I refocused. I went out there and threw strikes and my defense took care of it."
The Suns defense was strong throughout, highlighted by a lead-saving play by Bell in the eighth inning.
With no outs and runners on second and third, Zack Short hit a fly ball to center field. Bell made the catch and fired home, gunning down Jake Willsey at the plate. Nate Spielvogel got Apolinar De la Cruz to ground out, ending the inning.
Bell followed his highlight-reel throw with a long two-run home run to right field in the bottom of the inning. The blast put the Suns up 5-2. Alex Lagos came on in the ninth to record the save.
Bell went 3 for 4. He finished a double short of the cycle.
"Once you get the adrenaline going, you want to go out there and do the best for your team," Bell said when asked how he followed his big defensive play with a homer. "[Jamin] has been leading us all year. We had an error in the first inning. ... He's a good teammate and I'll pick him up every time."
Heading into the All-Star break, Conley said Friday's game showed that his team can perform well in a postseason-type atmosphere.
"To come out on top, and make those plays and not be on the other end of them -- that's the way you're going to win those games," he said.
Brock. 200 000 000 -- 2 6 0
Pitts. 210 000 02x -- 5 7 1
J. Pusateri (4), C. Ferre (1), M. Bruemmel (3). Jamin McCann (7), Nate Spielvogel (1), Alex Lagos (1). W-- McCann. L-- Pusateri. S -- Lagos. 2B -- Pittsfield 1 (Zach Tower); 3B -- Brockton 1 (Stoffel); Pittsfield 1 (Tyler Bell); HR -- Pittsfield 1 (Bell).