PITTSFIELD — For the second time in the last seven days, the Pittsfield Suns swept a doubleheader from Norwich. This one, however, was much easier.
The Suns scored a 6-4 win in the opening game Sunday at Wahconah Park. In the nightcap, Pittsfield scored nine runs on just three hits in the second inning en route to a 15-1 win that only went 4 1/2 innings because of the Futures League's 10-run rule.
Compare that with the doubleheader win on July 26, when the Suns needed walk-offs in both games to secure the sweep.
Pittsfield usually wears white uniforms with red and yellow trim, and either solid black or red and black hats. In the second game, there was a decided green and gold tint to the victory.
That's because Taconic graduate Anton Lazits made his Suns debut in the nightcap, playing third base while fellow Taconic alumnus Izaiya Mestre threw five strong innings to get the win in the opener. Lazits got his first two Futures League hits in the nightcap.
With the sweep, manager Matt Gedman's club is now three percentage points behind Brockton for second place in the Futures League. League-leading Vermont, with an 8-5 win over Worcester, is four games ahead of both Brockton and Pittsfield. The Rox are 30-22 with a .577 winning percentage, while the Suns are 31-23 with a .574 winning percentage.
The league is off Monday. Pittsfield returns to action Tuesday at Worcester and is off Wednesday, before returning to the friendly confines of Wahconah Park for a game Thursday with Vermont and Friday against Brockton. The Suns close out the week at Worcester on Saturday.
Lazits, bound for Division I Columbia University in the fall, handled two defensive chances cleanly. He caught Josh Taylor's pop fly in the first inning, but could not throw out Hunter Yaworski after an infield single in the fifth.
Offensively, he was 2 for 2 with a run scored and two runs batted in. The two RBI came in Pittsfield's nine-run second inning. The Suns scored nine runs on only three hits, but five walks and two hit batters. There were three wild pitches and a passed ball in the inning. The Suns sent 13 batters to the plate in the second. Lazits was one of four Suns to make two trips to the plate. He walked in his first trip and scored a run, and then pulled a single to left, scoring Caleb Shpur and Nate Cormier.
The Suns led 11-0 after two innings and tacked on four more in the third. Two of them came on Seth Werchan's three-run home run. It was Werchan's third home run of the season.
That was more than enough offense for Pittsfield starter Grant Nicholson. The left hander from Kansas State went four shutout innings, holding Norwich to two hits and three walks. He struck out six. Zach Begin closed the game out.
Lazits was one of four Suns to have two hits in the game. Jack Thorbahn, Jackson Appel and Jake Blinstrub were the other Suns with two-hit games.
Norwich 000 01 — 1 3 0
Pittsfield 294 0x — 15 11 0
Davey 1 2/3, Hughes 2/3, Kaftan 2/3, Phillips 1 and Blake. Nicholson 4, Begin 1 and Gervasi. W — Nicholson (2-1). L — Davey (2-2). 2B — P: Thorbahn. HR — P: Werchan 3. LOB — N 9. P 5. T — 1:57. A — 598.
For the second time in a week, Taconic's Mestre got the best of the Sea Unicorns.
The right hander from the University of New Haven went five innings. He gave up three runs on seven hits, one walk and three strikeouts. Only one of those three runs was earned, meaning Mestre has held Norwich to one earned run over the last 11 innings.
When the teams played a week ago, Mestre got a no-decision because of Javier Rosales' RBI double in the bottom of the seventh inning of a 1-0 win. On Sunday, the Suns scored early and never trailed.
Joel Lara's RBI double plated Mike Khoury with a run in the bottom of the second inning. Jake Miller was thrown out at home trying to score on that double.
Pittsfield erupted for four runs in the third, which gave Mestre and reliever Ryan Langford enough of a cushion.
Blinstrub led off the third with a walk and went to third on one of two doubles by Brendan Jones. Blinstrub scored on a passed ball and Cabot Maher followed with a two-run home run to make it 4-0. Since July 16, Maher has been one of Pittsfield's hottest hitters. On the 16th, he was hitting .260, but has raised his batting average to .348 by going 11-for-18 in his last five games.
Jones and Maher each had two hits for the Suns in the opener.
The Suns got a fourth run when Khoury walked, followed by singles from Tyler Cox and Miller. Miller's single scored Khoury.
Langford pitched the final two innings to pick up his sixth save. He is now three behind the club record of nine, set by Dom Grillo back in 2015.