The last time the Muskrats visited the North Adams SteepleCats, Laconia starter Alex Eliopolis had a no-hitter through five innings. On Friday, Mark Leiter, Jr. (NJIT) was an inning shy of that pace, surrendering his first hit in the fifth.
But it was North Adams’ Chris Bielak (Marist) who sounded the no-hitter alarm in this game, throwing six perfect innings. Laconia did not have a base runner against Bielak until the seventh inning, when John Polonius (West Virginia) got an infield single after shortstop Tyler Palmer (Miami) hesitated his throw.
Bielak was lights out, finishing one out away from the first shutout of the Muskrats. With two outs in the ninth, Bielak walked pinch-hitters Joe Torres (Iona) and Tyler Raymond (Kentucky), finishing his night. In 8.2 innings pitched, he struck out seven batters, only allowing the two walks, two hits and two runs.
Matt Longfield (Villanova) came on to wrap things up for North Adams, but Ethan Bennett (Tennessee) hammered his third home run in two days, a three run shot, to make it 5-3. With the Muskrats finally showing signs of life, Vince Conde (Vanderbilt) grounded out to third to end the game.
North Adams was the first offense to strike and score, as they cruised on to a 5-3 win. That first hit by Will Klausing (Texas Pam-Am) led to a fifth-inning run, an RBI hit for Dillion Bass (UNC-Wilmington) that Connor Castellano (Vanderbilt) had a tough time tracking in left field.
The SteepleCats added two in the sixth on an RBI double by Bryon Solomon (Eastern Kentucky), which was also misjudged by the Muskrats outfield.
The bases were loaded with two outs in the home half of the seventh, as Laconia reliever Tim Ponto (St. Joseph’s) worked into trouble. A grounder shot off the glove of Tyler Jackson (Charleston) at first brought home a run, followed by another RBI for Solomon. With the bases still loaded, Marcus Davis (Walters St) made a fantastic diving catch in the outfield to save the Muskrats from further damage.
The two teams combined for five errors Friday night, with Laconia committing three and allowing two unearned runs. In both meetings last summer between Laconia and North Adams, the SteepleCats were in last place in the Western Division, and both times rallied to beat the sloppy-playing Muskrats. Laconia committed six errors in the first meeting, and allowed six unearned runs in the next contest.
Laconia, with their first losing record of the season (5-6), returns home Saturday to host their nemesis Newport Gulls at 6:30 PM.