The Newport Gulls scored eight runs on four two-run hits in the fourth inning and got a controversial, 9-7 abbreviated win at Robbie Mills Field Saturday night.
In one of the more bizarre games the Muskrats have ever played in Laconia, a mechanical failure with the light tower closest to home plate caused the action to be called as the sixth inning was set to start.
Poor weather delayed the start of the game by nearly 50 minutes, but eventually gave way to a beautiful night for baseball. Normally, its rain that forces a game to be finalized after a minimum of five complete innings, not darkness.
Newport scored a run in the opening frame on two passed balls, one on a strikeout, and a double. Laconia answered with a three-run, four-hit first, punctuated by a Tim Swatek (Fordham) double that brought home Marcus Davis (Walters St) and Tyler Jackson (Charleston).
Laconia added two unearned runs in the third, an inning in which Newport pitching struck out a rare four batters in three outs. Davis led off with his second double of the game, and advanced two bases on one play to score. Pinch-hitter Donny Duschinsky (Southern Illinois) struck out swinging on a wild pitch, which moved Davis to third, and the throw down to first by catcher Matt Pare (Boston College) went into right field, bringing Davis home.
That was it for Gulls’ starter Jon Prosinski (Seton Hall), who recorded his fourth strikeout of the game but did not get an out in the inning. Ryan Pennell (Elon) came in and got three strikeouts, totaling four in the frame. But Duschinsky also managed to score on a wild pitch, after stealing third and moving to second on another wild pitch. Laconia led 5-1.
Muskrats’ starter John Healy (Saint Anselm) had been sharp through three innings, but got touched up in the fourth. A walk, a single, and a sacrifice bunt put two runners in scoring position, as Pare drove both in with a single. John Norwood (Vanderbilt) then plated two more on a deep drive over the Muskrat Monster. The game was tied.
Healy would surrender one more single before exiting the game. In his first game for Laconia after being picked up from the Cape Cod Baseball League, he took the loss for his 3.1 innings, six runs, seven hits, walk and five strikeouts. Healy appeared in one game for the Muskrats in 2010, in which he sustained an arm injury.
Swatek, who started as the designated hitter, moved to the mound after Healy left. He got an out, but then allowed a walk, a two-run double to Steve Anderson (Georgetown), and a two-run homer to Joel McKeithan (Vanderbilt), saddling Healy with the loss.
The home team began to come back in the fifth, as Connor Castellano’s (Vanderbilt) two-run double made it 9-7. But Laconia will never know how the game would have really ended.
After Frank Holbrook (Wheaton) got pinch-hitter Regan Flaherty (Seminole CC) swinging to end the fifth, the light set above the visitor’s dugout went dark. Between-inning warm-ups were suspended while the light situation was addressed. After a 15-minute delay and numerous attempts to fire up the malfunctioning light tower, home plate umpire Brian Troup declared the game over. The next attempt to fix the lights was successful, the umpires were asked to return, and the Muskrats attempted to contact the NECBL League Office for an official ruling. But because the game was ruled over by Troup, Newport was given a 9-7 win in five complete innings.
The disappointed Muskrats drop to 5-7, and will have to fight to stay in third place Sunday against the Sanford Mainers. Expect the lights to be fully functional for game time: 6:30 PM at Robbie Mills Field.