It wasn’t all apple pie, fireworks, and rematch revenge Wednesday night for the Laconia Muskrats at Robbie Mills Field. One of the most anticipated games of the 2012 season became somewhat of a fiasco, as Keene road out an 80-minute rain delay and walked away with an 8-1 win.
With severe thunderstorm warnings in affect for the night and an early, 5:00 PM start for the 4th of July holiday, NECBL Player of the Week Frankie Schwindel (St. John’s) got Keene started in the second with a lead-off home run.
The Swamp Bats then bat around in the third inning, adding seven runs, including five unearned, as an error bizarrely affected the scoring. After a lead-off single, Muskrats second baseman Wil Leathers (Spartanburg Methodist) commit his second error of the game, allowing Mike Papi (Virginia) to reach. Jared Walsh (Georgia) followed with a three-run homer, as Papi’s run was unearned due to reaching on the error.
Two outs later, when the inning would have been over if not for the misplay on Papi’s grounder, Keene strung together six-straight hits, including a two-run homer for Austin Wheeler (Georgia). The five runs that resulted all went unearned because the inning should have been over.
Elliott Warford’s (Furman) earned run average will avoid the full extent of the damage, but he did suffer the loss for his three rough innings. He allowed ten hits, including three home runs, and walked one batter.
After Laconia went quietly in the bottom of that third inning, a lightning flash put the game in an initial 20-minute delay. During that time, strong wind gusts, rains, and severe thunder descended upon the park. The game was halted for an additional hour, and it looked at one point like Keene’s 8-0 performance might get washed away as an unofficial game.
But credit General Manager Noah Crane, the umpires, and both team managers for deciding to wait it out. With an apparent weather window of about 45 minutes, the game resumed in the top of the seventh at around 7:30 PM. The plan was to attempt to play through the bottom of the fifth inning, which would finalize the game, before more rain arrived.
That rain never did materialize, as the teams went on to complete the full nine innings. John Ziznewski (Rockland CC) got Laconia its first run and hit, with a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh. Laconia would also get a hit from Vince Conde (Vanderbilt), avoiding Keene’s no-hit attempt.
Artie Lewicki (Virginia) was dominant before the delay, allowing two walks and no hits through three innings. He did not return after the rains, thus not qualifying for the win, which he handed off to Andrew Grant (UMASS Amherst).
Laconia finishes the summer series with Keene with a record of 0-2, outscored by the Swamp Bats 17-3. The only chance of seeing the in-state rivals again this summer would be in a direct rematch of the NECBL Championship.
With three games left in their season-long 12-game stretch, the Muskrats travel to last-place Mystic on Thursday, host North Adams on Friday, and visit New Bedford Saturday. First pitch Thursday is at 6:05 PM on the NECBL Broadcast Network.