The Laconia Muskrats grabbed three unearned runs in the third and were given two more tallies in the sixth on four walks and a hit, as they got just enough to top the Mystic Schooners 5-4 on Saturday.
In the key sixth inning, Mystic got their go-ahead run on the last few pitches of England Smith’s (Walters St) 5.1-inning start. In the bottom of the frame, Schooners pitcher Steve Marino (Williams) got two quick fly outs in his third inning of relief. But he went on to walk what would be the tying and game winning runs for Laconia.
With Joe Torres (Iona) and Ryan Phelan (Fordham) on, Kevin Carlow (Brown) came on to face John Ziznewski (Rockland CC), who sharply singled in Torres to tie the game at 4-4. Carlow then walked Regan Flaherty (Seminole CC) to load the bases. New NECBL home run king Danny Collins (Troy) also had to settle for a walk, which plated Phelan for the fifth run.
The Muskrats only amassed five hits, but used six walks and two Mystic errors to take away a win. Nic Manuppelli (Youngstown St) came on to pitch the ninth, struck out two, and notched his league-leading and team-record eighth save of the season.
Laconia takes an important 4-3 lead in the season series with Mystic, a team that secured three of their league-low five wins against the Muskrats. The battle at the bottom of the Eastern standings is complex, with Laconia and Sanford swapping back and forth from third to fourth based on winning percentage and games behind Newport. Mystic is some seven games behind that battle, with nine games left in their season.
Working in Laconia’s favor is their 6-1 record against Sanford, their small edge in the tie-breaker with Mystic, and the fact that the Mainers and Schooners still face each other five times. Sanford must play 11 games in eight days to finish the season.
Laconia’s schedule ahead looks bright. With most of the team getting an off-day Sunday for the All-Star Game, Laconia will play a rain make-up game at New Bedford Monday, and visit Newport Wednesday before a weekend series on the road. Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday are all off-days for the Muskrats.
On Sunday, Danny Collins, Vince Conde, Wil Leathers, and Nic Manuppelli will represent Laconia in the 19th-annual NECBL All-Star Game. Muskrats Chris Harvey (Vanderbilt) and Donny Duschinsky (Southern Illinois) will also participate in the skills competition. Laconia’s own Casey Williams will call the action on the NECBL Broadcast Network.