The Vermont Mountaineers defeated the Keene Swamp Bats in dramatic walk-off fashion 3-2 in game two of the Western Division finals at Recreation Field on Thursday night to force a decisive game three on Friday night in Keene.
The 9th inning was filled with much anxiety. Brad Kaczka (Winthrop) started it off for Vermont with a walk. A.J. Ryan (Dayton) was the next batter. He failed on two separate attempts to lay down a sacrifice bunt and the count went to 1-2. Then the game took an unexpected turn as the light towers in left field and left-center field went out causing a fifteen minute delay in action. When play resumed, Ryan tried to bunt with two strikes and was unsuccessful. That left it up to Kyle Smith (Vanderbilt). Smith struck out, but Kaczka moved to second on a stolen base and to third on the same play as the throw from catcher Tommy Monnot (Kent St.) sailed into center field. Smith struck out and that brought Dan Mendick (UMASS-Lowell) to the plate with two outs. Mendick drilled a fastball to left-center field to score the winning run in Kaczka from third and give Vermont the 3-2 victory.
The Mountaineers trailed 2-0 entering the bottom of the 4th when the offense awoke. Chandler Brock (Alabama-Huntsville) led off the inning with an infield single. Kevin Krause (Stony Brook) followed with a single to make it first and second with nobody out. Brock stole third and Krause was picked off of first. Two batters later, A.J. Ryan walked and stole second. Brock came home as soon as the attempt to throw out Ryan at second was made. Ryan came home to score during Dan Mendick's at-bat two hitters later. Ryan scored to tie the game at two when an errant throw was made to try and pick him off at third.
The Swamp Bats struck right away in the 1st when Zach Lucas (Louisville) hit a leadoff triple. He came home to score when Matt Ford (Hofstra) hit a ground ball to the right side. This made it 1-0 Keene. The Swamp Bats added a run in the top of the 4th to make it 2-0.
Cody Brown (Central Connecticut State) started for Vermont and pitched very well. He went seven innings and allowed just two runs on five hits. He struck out one and received a no-decision. Paul Covelle (Franklin Pierce) hurled for Keene. He went six innings and gave up two runs (one earned) on five hits. He walked three and struck out five.
Pat Delano (Vanderbilt) (1-0) got the win for Vermont as he returned to form. He pitched two innings and allowed no runs on one hit and one walk. He struck out two.
John Birkbeck (Kent St.) (0-1) took the loss for Keene in two and two-thirds innings of work. He gave up one unearned run on two hits and two walks. He struck out four.
The Vermont Mountaineers are back in action on Friday night when they travel to New Hampshire to battle the Keene Swamp Bats in a deciding game three of the Western Division finals at Alumni Field. The first pitch is set for 6:30. The winner of the game will take on the Newport Gulls in the NECBL Championship beginning Saturday evening.
Courtesy: Vermont Mountaineers
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