Bristol Blues plate 3 in 10th to topple Pittsfield Suns at home

PITTSFIELD — One recurring theme of this week for the Pittsfield Suns has been an inability to get clutch hits late in games.

That came back to bite the Suns on Thursday night.

The Suns put the first two runners on base in the bottom of the ninth inning with the score tied, but could not produce a run. The Suns also brought the tying run to the plate in the 10th, but could not complete the comeback as Bristol beat the Suns 5-3, before 1,011 at Wahconah Park.

"If you look at the numbers, the top [six] guys in our lineup are hitting over .300. We've been on base," Suns manager Matt Gedman said. "Tonight, we just couldn't get a knock.

"The breaks weren't going our way, and we had first and second with three of our better hitters up. It's unfortunate, but the effort level is there."

In the home run derby loss to Brockton on Sunday, the Suns left 17 on base. In the walk-off loss at Worcester on Wednesday, they left eight. At Wahconah Park, the Suns left 10 on and were 3 for 13 with runners in scoring position.

"We've been struggling lately getting guys in when we get them on base," said Suns designated hitter Dylan Faircloth. "I don't know. We just have to bear down and get the job done, focus more on doing our job rather than just swinging."

An unearned run in the top of the seventh had tied the game for the Blues. The Suns came back in the home seventh to load the bases with two outs, but could not produce a run.

The ninth inning was one of the more unusual innings you'll ever see.

Mike Nocchi, the third Suns pitcher, came on to pitch. He struck out Theodore Hague, but Hague reached on a dropped third strike. After Richard Brereton struck out, Matt Bonvicini walked and pinch hitter Dylan Reynolds hit an infield single to load the bases. It was ruled a single because the ball struck bases umpire Mike Mooney on the left inner thigh. By baseball rule, it is a single and the runners cannot advance more than a base. It would, however, have been a taylor-made double play ball hit to Suns shortstop Brian McHale.

So, Nocchi came back and struck out Peyton Stephens and Ethan Hunt to end the inning and set a Suns record with four strikeouts in one inning.

Kyle Cronk led off the Pittsfield ninth with a single and was run for by Chad Shade. Shade stole second and Vicente Mendoza, one of three Suns to register two hits, was walked intentionally. In came Bristol closer Neal McDermott, who has 11 saves on the season. It wasn't a save situation, but he struck out pinch-hitter Drew DeMartino, Dave Matthews and Patrick Sullivan to end the threat and send the game into free baseball.

Alex Baumann led off with a single. Nocchi and the Suns thought they had Baumann picked off first, but Mooney called the runner safe. Ian Ostberg walked and Alex Loparco was intentionally walked to load the bases. Theodore Hague hit a sacrifice fly to center, scoring one run. Nocchi wild pitched the other two runs home before giving way to Jonathan Marchia, who retired the side. But it was 5-2.

Faircloth, who went 2 for 5 and scored two runs, hit a one-out double. After Ivan Nunez walked, a wild pitch moved the runners up. Brian McHale drove in his second run with a sacrifice fly. Shade, the tying run, struck out on a 2-2 pitch to end the game.

The ending put a damper on another quality start by Gage Feeney. The right hander from Southern Maine went six innings, giving up a run on only three hits. He didn't walk anyone and struck out five. He threw 75 pitches, 49 for strikes.

"It was good day out there," said Feeney. "Trying to have my mind set up correctly. I want to throw strikes, as I said the last time. The defense played well behind me.

"I was spotting my fastball really well, getting ahead, and the curve ball kept them off balance."

Thomas Hughes pitched two innings in relief of Feeney, giving up an unearned run. It was the first run Hughes had given up in five outings this summer.

The Suns have Friday off before home games with Brockton and Bristol leading into the All-Star Break.

"We need the results to start falling our way," said Gedman.


Bristol     000     001     100     3     —     5     6     1

Pittsfield     010     001     000     1     —     3     8     1

DeLease (6), Hebner (2), McDermott (2) and Baumann. Feeney (6), Hughes (2), Nocchi (1 1/3), Marchia (2/3) and Simeone, Meilleur. W — McDermott (1-0). L — Nocchi (1-2). 2B — P: Faircloth. T — 3:00. A — 1,011.

Howard Herman can be reached at, on Twitter @howardherman, or 413-496-6253.     


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