Pittsfield Suns offense slowly waking up for second straight win
After a 40-minute sun delay Tuesday night, North Shore starter Devin O'Donovan walked the first two batters in the bottom of the fourth inning, Patrick O'Sullivan brought them home with a towering home run, and the Suns scored six runs to take the lead for keeps.
The 8-5 win was the Suns' second straight victory.
"The sun delay can be tough, especially for a pitcher. An opposing pitcher doesn't understand it," Pittsfield manager Matt Gedman said. "We're 4-9 on the year, but we're 3-0 in sun delays. For us, it gives us a chance to step back, regroup, and that time kind of helps us more than it helps them."
The Suns needed to regroup because future Boston College commit Sal Frelick put the Navigators up 4-0 when he saw his first Futures League pitch and hit it into the play area in right field. Frelick, who graduates from Lexington (Mass.) High School on Sunday, was seeing his first action for the Navigators.
It was the only bad pitch Pittsfield starter Bryson Cafaro made in his four innings. The left-hander from Fairfield pitched four innings, giving up four runs in the second on three hits. He struck out two and walked one. Cafaro did not come out for the fifth because of the 40-minute sun delay and the 20-minute Pittsfield fourth.
The inning started innocently enough when Dave Matthews worked a walk and Dylan Faircloth walked on four pitches. Up came Sullivan, a redshirt sophomore from the University of Georgia, who was making his Suns debut. On a 3-1 count, O'Donovan served up a slider and Sullivan launched a ball that cleared the back fence by the baseball scoreboard for a three-run home run. It was Sullivan's first home run of 2018.
"After the sun delay, we just put together some good at-bats," said Sullivan. "We started swinging at some better pitches, got some hits and scored some runs."
In three of his four at-bats, Sullivan was not cheated at the plate. He sent North Shore left fielder Jeff Mejia to the warning track in left field in the second inning and then hit one to nearly the same spot in the fifth. In the fourth, however, Sullivan pulled the ball.
"I was looking to get a pitch up, and he threw me a slider up, and I put a good swing on it," said the newest Sun. "I haven't been here long, today was my first day, but it felt good off the bat and I thought it had a chance."
The Suns weren't done and tied the game at 4 when Chad Shade tripled and scored on pinch-hitter Taylor Meilleur's double. Meilleur broke the tie when he scored on Kyle Cronk's base hit. Alex White's bloop single to center chased O'Donovan.
Gavin Sullivan came in, allowed Cronk to score on a wild pitch, but shut the Suns down. It was, however, 6-4.
North Shore scored a run in the sixth when J.P. Knight scored on the back end of an unsuccessful double steal. Sutherland was thrown out, and Knight came home on a fielder's choice.
The Suns extended the lead on Cronk's two-run single in the sixth.
With the lead, Gedman brought Izaiya Mestre out of the bullpen. The right-hander from Taconic has become a reliever because of an innings count for the summer. He pitched two scoreless innings, giving up two hits. He pitched out of an eighth-inning jam, giving up a leadoff triple to Sutherland, but retiring the side without a run scoring.
"Honestly, it's not the worst thing. One, my arm is resting and I get to come out and throw as hard as I can," Mestre said. "I don't have to worry about pitch limits or anything.
"You get in jams regardless of whether you're starting or not, so you just have to get past it and keep throwing strikes."
Pittsfield had 11 hits in the game. Shade went 3 for 4, while Meilleur and Cronk had two hits each. Brian McHale extended his hitting streak to five games and White extended his to three games.
North Shore 040 001 000 — 5 9 1
Pittsfield 000 602 00x — 8 11 2
O'Donovan (3 1/3), Sullivan (2/3), Lane (4) and Engstrom. Cafaro (4), Demarest (2), Mestre (2), Mora (1) and Gurnack (3), Meilleur (6). W — Demarest (1-1). L — O'Donovan (0-1). Sv — Mora (1). 2B — P: McHale, Meilleur. 3B — NS: Sutherland. P:Shade. HR — NS: Frelick (1). P: Sullivan (1). T — 2:34. A — 650.
Howard Herman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter at @howardherman, or 413-496-6253.
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