Suns can't rally back from early deficit, fall to Brockton
PITTSFIELD -- The Pittsfield Suns front office called it "Awful Night" on Wednesday, entertaining the Wahconah Park gathering with some of the more infamous "one-hit wonder" pop songs between innings.
The Pittsfield Suns didn't play along with the night's theme, but weren't quite good enough to get a victory.
Pittsfield gave up five early runs but shut down Brockton over the final five frames, dropping a 5-4 decision. The Rox bounced back after losing their first game of the season at Old Orchard Beach on Tuesday.
"I think today was one of the best losses that we had, if you can have a good loss. Usually, it turns into we give up an early lead and then they tack on and add on, and it's a 9-2 or 10-1 loss," Suns manager Tom Conley said. "I thought it was a pretty well-played game after the third or fourth inning.
"I felt good about the effort. It's just too bad we didn't put up a couple of more runs."
Slow starts have been an issue for the Suns, who fell to 6-6 and sit 3 1/2 games behind West Division-leading Worcester.
On Wednesday, Brockton starter Simon Mathews set down nine of the first 10 batters he faced, only giving up an infield single to Dan Cellucci with one out in the third inning. By the time Cellucci reached base, the Suns were in a 4-0 hole.
"We started off kind of slow, let them get ahead and made a couple of mistakes in the field," said Suns outfielder Luke Reynolds, who finished the night 2 for 3 with a two-run single in the fourth inning. "That's what happens when you give mistakes to those kind of teams."
The Suns didn't see this game get out of hand, thanks to some stellar relief pitching by the Merrimack College duo of Perry Kulaga and Nate Spielvogel. Kulaga has appeared in six games for Pittsfield, and has a 0.00 earned-run average over 14 innings. He surrendered an unearned run on June 15.
That has kept the Suns in games when they don't kick it into gear right off the bat.
"Sometimes we seem to struggle to get going," said centerfielder Gary Tesch. "We get behind and put ourselves in jams late in games like this. Most times, we find a way to at least give ourselves a chance."
The Suns loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh and made it 5-4 when Brockton reliever Matt Coppens walked Derek Gardella with the bases loaded. But Jeff McGarry swung at the next pitch and popped out to end the threat.
The Suns had a chance in the ninth when Tesch beat out an infield single, sliding around the tag. But Kyle Bartleman grounded into a game-ending double play.
Bartleman got his first two hits of the year for the Suns while Reynolds also went 2 for 4. Brockton's Nick Johnson was 3 for 4.
Brockton 022 100 000 -- 5 8 1
Pittsfield 000 300 100 -- 4 6 2
Mathews (5), Granoff (1 2/3), Coppens (1 1/3), King (1) and Freiday. Finan (4), Kulaga (3), Spielvogel (2) and Gardella. W--Mathews (3-0). L--Finan (1-1). S--King (3). 2B--B 1 (Stoffel).
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