PITTSFIELD — The Pittsfield Suns had an early lead but could not maintain it Tuesday night.
Visiting Worcester scored two runs in the fifth inning to tie the score and took the lead with a pair of runs on two hits in the top of the ninth inning as the Bravehearts beat the Suns 6-4.
The loss, coupled with Brockton’s 7-0 win over New Britain dropped the Suns a half-game behind the Rox for the Futures League lead.
Relievers Zach Begin and Jackson Atwood had kept the Worcester offense under wraps for three solid innings, giving the Suns a chance to break a 4-4 tie. As good as they were, left-handed reliever L.J. Keevan was better. The UMass Lowell product came on in relief of Max LeBlanc in the fifth inning and locked down the Pittsfield offense.
LeBlanc faced 16 hitters over the final four innings, and allowed only one baserunner. Sean McLeod had hit a two-out single in the fifth, but was out stretching the single into a double. In the eighth, Jackson Appel led off with a single, but was forced at second to end the eighth inning.
In the ninth. Keevan struck out Tyler Cox, bot Seth Werchan on a fly ball to center and struck out Trent Taylor to end the game.
Keevan struck out 10 in five innings of work and did not walk anyone.
Worcester broke the tie in the top of the ninth. Cabot Maher, the fourth Pittsfield pitcher gave up a leadoff single to Nick Martin. After Martin was wild pitched to second, he took third on Michael Perales’ ground out. Randy Flores walked on a 3-2 pitch. Then Dakota Harris singled to left, plating Martin with the go-ahead run. The next batter was Gavin Noriega and he grounded to first. First baseman Mike Groves threw to short to force Harris, but the relay from Alex Aguila was late and the fielders choice scored Flores with the sixth and final run.
The game started 45 minutes late because of pregame rain, but it did not impact either offense. The Bravehearts got an RBI double by Harris and an RBI single by Noriega in the first inning to take a 2-0 lead.
The Suns came back with a leadoff home run by Seth Werchan, his second of the year. Jake Blinstrub reached on an error in the outfield by center fielder Rico Riley and after stealing second, came home when he stole third and catcher Matt Maloney sailed the ball into left.
The Suns took a 4-2 lead in the fourth on a Werchan sacrifice fly and an RBI double by Trent Taylor. The Suns left runners on second and third.
Worcester tied the game in the fifth with two runs on one hit, two errors a hit-batter and a bases-loaded RBI walk to Riley.
McLeod had two of Pittsfield’s eight hits. Four different Worcester batters had two hits each.
The Suns are in Brockton Wednesday and home to face New Britain on Thursday
Two members of the Suns, Appel and pitcher Tim Cianciolo were named to the Futures League’s May and June team of the month.
Cianciolo had a rocky first couple of games in Pittsfield, givig up four earned runs in four innings pitched on five hits. But the right hander from UMass Boston settled in during June to go 3-1 with a 2.18 earned-run average. He appeared in four games in June, started three and pitched 20 2/3 innings. He struck out 25 and walked 13.
Appel, a catcher from the University of Pennsylvania got going from the jump. He was 8 for 12 (.667) in May with five runs batted in. His averaged got locked in above .300, as he went 14 for 55 (.304) in June. He scored 10 runs and drove in 13. Appel had four doubles in the month of June.
Worcester 200 020 002 — 6 9 3
Pittsfield 200 200 000 — 4 8 5
LeBlanc 4, Keevan 5 and Maloney. Mullen 5, Begin 1, Atwood 2, Maher 1 and Appel. W — Keevan (2-0). L — Maher (0-2). 2B — W: Harris, Noriega. P: Taylor. HR — P: Werchan (2). LOB — W 7. P 7. T — 2:55. A — 367.