Throughout the Muskrats’ July losing skid, the recipe for defeat has been poor starting pitching digging too much of a hole for the offense to recover from. On average, over the last week, Laconia starters surrendered seven runs and pitched only into the second inning.
Wednesday night, the trend was somewhat reversed against New Bedford, but the result was the same, as Laconia dropped it’s sixth-straight game. This time, the team got improved starting pitching, limited offense, and debilitating defense.
Four errors in two embarrassing innings inflated New Bedford’s scoring, tacking on six additional runs that made up the difference in a 10-4 loss. The Muskrats evoked images of Little League baseball at times, allowing two different “inside-the-park” trips around the bases as they threw the ball around.
Laconia had reason to hope, running Nevin Wilson (Vanderbilt) out to the mound, who started the last time the Muskrats won a game. With a pitch count over 120, Wilson battled through six full innings. A chaotic, five-run second inning was his biggest blemish.
With Laconia having jumped out to an encouraging first inning lead on a solo home run by Wil Leathers (Spartanburg Methodist), New Bedford needed just two base runners to apply pressure in the second. Following a leadoff single and a walk, the Bay Sox failed to bunt the runners up.
Following the out and a full count to Brendan O’Brien (Bryant), both runners took off on a strike-three fastball. Instead of going for the lead runner at third, catcher Ryan Phelan’s (Fordham) throw went to second, and no one was there to receive it. A run came in on the error, and the trail runner advanced to third.
As the inning continued, a single brought in a second run, and Zac Stone’s (Millersville) double following a walk cleared the bases. Stone himself advanced to third on the throw to the plate, and Wilson’s relay back to third went over everything, allowing Stone to take all four bases in one play. New Bedford led 5-1.
Automated scoring lists all five runs as unearned, based on the rule that any run scoring after two outs in an inning with an error goes unearned. But because Phelan’s two-out error was a mental error and cannot be assumed as the third out of the inning, four of the runs should be considered earned. Only Wilson’s error would produce an unearned run: Stone scoring on his own double.
New Bedford added a run in the third on an Andy Lalli (SNHU) RBI, the last Wilson would allow. He took care of the Bay Sox in the fourth and fifth with his pitch count soaring.
Laconia certainly appreciated the effort from Wilson, but this time it was their defense that had them playing for way behind. They were able to climb back a bit with two runs in the third. Leathers accounted for all three early Muskrats runs, as he added an RBI double and then scored on a Regan Flaherty (Seminole CC) sacrifice fly to make it 5-3.
New Bedford stuck again once Tim Swatek (Fordham) took the hill in the seventh, greeting him with a double and a home run. A walk, a groundout, and a stolen base put Zack Graczyk (SUNY Cortland) on third for another scorebook-busting defensive meltdown.
Bryan Eggleston (Stetson) hit a grounder to Vince Conde (Vanderbilt) at short. Graczyk was caught well off the bad at third and Conde ran at him, disregarding Eggleston. Grayczyk broke for home and Conde passed the ball to Corey Stringer, who had just entered the game to catch. Stringer chased Grayczyk back toward third, but Graczyk hit the deck and evaded the tag attempt, turning back to home. Stringer airmailed the 30-foot throw and Graczyk was safe. During this fiasco, Eggleston got himself to all the way to third base, and scored once he saw the throw get away.
Those final two runs would go unearned, as Stringer should be charged with two errors on the play, including one for the missed tag in what should have been a routine rundown. New Bedford was now ahead comfortably, 10-3.
Conde would add an RBI in the ninth for Laconia, but the game finished with a 10-4 score in favor of the Bay Sox.
Luke Farrell (Northwestern), son of Toronto Blue Jays Manager John Farrell, was credited with the win. In five innings, he allowed six hits, three runs, and two walks while striking out seven Muskrats. Wilson took the loss.
Relegated to fourth place now by a solid 2.5 games, the Muskrats will look to snap their six-game skid with a dose of the Western Divison. Laconia travels to Danbury Thursday and Vermont Friday, before returning for a weekend home stand featuring Mystic and Vermont.