HOLYOKE – Centerfielder Mendez Elder came up in the tenth with the bases loaded and hit a ball deep into the outfield to score catcher Bobby Stahel for the winning run as the Valley Blue Sox snapped a six-game losing streak by beating the Newport Gulls 4-3 on June 22.|
In the second inning, the Blue Sox opened the scoring, as third baseman Frank Crinella singled, and then shortstop Garrett Black walked. Right fielder Kevin Barker then came to the dish and the first at-bat of his birthday was worth a run as he singled to left.
However, the Gulls scored in the fifth on a hit batter, wild pitch, single, and sacrifice, and the following frame gained a lead as a single and two errors plated a run.
The duo of Crinella and Black both singled again in the home half of the sixth, and after Elder sacrifice bunted, Barker drove in two more with a hot-shot single that hopped over the shortstop to make it 3-2.
The Gulls again tied it the next half-inning, as two singles bookended an error to make it 3-3.
Valley had a chance to take the lead in the eighth with a man on third and one out, but could not bring him home. Neither team did much in the ninth, and then the Gulls got second and third with two outs but a fly to the track in right ended the threat.
That set the stage for the heroics. Stahel and Crinella both singled, with Crinella laying down a perfect bunt; Black attempted to bunt them over and a bad throw by the pitcher loaded the bases. The Gulls brought their center fielder to the infield to try to protect from a ground ball, but Elder swung at the first pitch and drove it into right field, far enough for Stahel to score and send the Blue Sox to celebration mode.
The thrilling win came one game after a heartbreaking defeat for the Blue Sox, who fell 5-4 on a walk-off single against the North Adams SteepleCats at Joe Wolfe Field on June 20.
The Blue Sox wasted no time in getting on the board, as left fielder Storm Wilson hit a double down the left field line on the first pitch. Designated hitter Angelo La Bruna came to the plate next, and after taking a wild pitch that allowed Wilson to move to third, hit a grounder to short that allowed Wilson to score.
The game remained scoreless until the sixth, when the SteepleCats took advantage of mental errors by the Blue Sox. A hit batsmen led off the frame, and after he stole second, he was driven in by a single. Another stolen base, followed by a throwing error by the catcher allowed a second run to score. Yet another error in right allowed a third run to score, and a sacrifice fly plated the fourth.
Valley got a run back in the seventh, as third baseman Frank Crinella drew a bases-loaded walk; the team could not bring in any further runs.
However, in the eighth, the Blue Sox came roaring back. Right fielder Bobby Stahel was hit by the first pitch of the inning, and then second baseman Joseph Carcone used ten pitches before driving a double down the left field line. Shortstop Garrett Black hit a grounder to score Stahel, and then Carcone came in on a wild pitch to tie the score 4-4.
The Blue Sox had a chance to score, with second and third in the ninth, but could not bring in the run. That proved fatal, as the SteepleCats worked a walk, a single, and a liner to right to end the game with a 5-4 win.
Valley returns home on June 26 against the Plymouth Pilgrims on Latino Heritage Night at Mackenzie Stadium. The first 250 fans will also receive Thunderstix.
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