Wednesday night at Robbie Mills Field, the Muskrats held their ground against New Bedford, hanging on for a 7-6 win to split the four-game home series with the Bay Sox, two wins apiece.
On the mound, Tim Swatek (Fordham) became the first Muskrats pitcher to record four wins in a summer, as he dazzled again in long relief.
The previous night in Sanford, the Muskrats could not reignite their offense after the rains wet their bats. In Wednesday’s win, Laconia’s offensive attack was balanced and spread out well.
Vince Conde (Vanderbilt) led the way for Laconia with a 2-for-3 performance, driving in three runs. With the Muskrats down 1-0 in the first, he smacked a two-run homer to the hill beyond center field. After his single scored a run in the fifth, he came around on an error by the Bay Sox third baseman for Laconia’s only unearned run.
In between Conde’s production, Laconia got three solo home runs from Joe Torres (Iona), Connor Castellano (Vanderbilt), and Regan Flaherty (Seminole CC), who notched his 50th career hit on a blast beyond center field.
Conde’s fifth inning hit was the last Laconia would have on the night, as they led 7-3 moving into the late stages of the game. After starter Sean Fitzgerald (Notre Dame) was removed, three Bay Sox bullpen arms combined to quiet Laconia.
That made for a tense situation in the eighth, when pinch-hitter Carl Anderson (Bryant) went deep for a three-run shot that pulled New Bedford within a run. Laconia could not muster anything in the bottom of the frame, and turned things over to their closer Nic Manuppelli (Youngstown St) in the ninth to shut the door. Manuppelli secured his team-record seventh save of the summer.
Nevin Wilson (Vanderbilt) faced an uphill battle in his start on the mound for the Muskrats. He dealt with runners on the corners with two outs in each of the first three innings, only yielding three runs. When two men reached in the fourth, his night came to an end.
Swatek came on for Wilson and held a Bay Sox lineup that includes six all-stars hitless for 3.2 innings. He struck out six, including the last five batters he faced, on his way to a record fourth win. In back-to-back long relief appearances, Swatek has thrown 9.2 innings of one-hit, one-run ball.
In pursuit of a new NECBL home run record, NECBL Player of the Week Danny Collins (Troy) went 1-for-2 with a single, and walked twice, including an intentional pass.
The Muskrats defense committed three more errors tonight, as half of New Bedford’s runs went unearned.
Laconia improves to 2-4 against New Bedford, and will see them twice more in July, including a make-up game on the 23rd that does not appear on the original schedule. Thursday night, the Muskrats will go right back to Sanford, Maine and try to clean up their act against the Mainers at 6:30 PM.