Danny Collins (Troy) broke the NECBL single season home run record Friday night at Robbie Mills Field, belting his 15th homer of the summer, but the Muskrats fell in extra innings to Danbury, 6-4.
Collins’ historic blast came in the sixth inning with Wil Leathers (Spartanburg Methodist) on base. The two-run shot pulled Laconia within one run of Danbury, at 4-3.
Collins bests the mark of 14 dingers, set by both Gil Barkman (Keene Swamp Bats) and Aaron Fera (Rhode Island Reds) in the summer of 1998. The record stood for 14 seasons.
Laconia would tie the game in the eighth, with Leathers and Collins reaching base to start the inning. Vince Conde (Vanderbilt) sacrificed himself to but the runners over into scoring position. Leathers came in on a ground out by Donny Duschinsky (Southern Illinois), but Collins would be left at third.
The game was knotted at 4-4 and went on into extra innings. With two quick outs in the bottom of the tenth, Danbury reliever David Gibson (SNHU) walked the bases loaded with three-straight passes. But the Muskrats left the bases loaded on a fly out to right field.
The Westerners would make Laconia pay in the top of the 11th. After a leadoff single, they used their first out to sacrifice the runner into scoring position. A walk and an infield fly later, Laconia had two outs with two Westerners on.
But Mike Orefice (Marist) the nemesis that hit the walk-off home run when these teams met in Danbury, blooped a ball into shallow left field. As they sent the runner home from second, Tim Swatek (Fordham) came up throwing from just yards beyond infield dirt. The play at the plate could have gone either way, and it went as Danbury’s winning run. They would add an insurance run on a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch.
Westerners starter Brett Houseal (Marist), one of the top pitchers in the NECBL this summer, settled for a no-decision after seven strong innings on the hill. He left with the lead and struck out a season-high nine batters.
With the home run record conquered by Collins, Laconia will turn their focus on the Mystic Schooners Saturday at Robbie Mills Field at 6:30 PM. It’s the last time the Muskrats will play at home until the last day of July, the final game of the season.