Holyoke, Mass. – The Swamp Bats recent struggles continued on Friday, dropping both games of a double-header against the Holyoke Blue Sox. Holyoke easily took the first game 11-3, while taking the second game from Keene 8-3. The two losses on Friday have given Keene its longest losing streak of the season (four games).
Joey Ceja (Louisville) started game one for the Swamp Bats, matching up against Aaron Weisberg (George Washington) for the Blue Sox.
After a quiet first two innings, the Swamp Bats got the scoring started in the top of the third inning of game one. Cameron O’Brien (Louisville) lined a double off the wall in right center field, which probably would have been a home run in most NECBL ballparks, to start the inning. With one out, he was driven in by a Dylan Moore (Cypress Community College) double to left-center field. The next batter was JP Sportman (Central Connecticut St.), who grounded a single into left field for a base hit. Moore scored on the play to give Keene a 2-0 lead, also giving Sportman his 36th RBI on the year. Sportman recorded his 37th RBI of the year on a groundout in the seventh inning.
Holyoke responded in the bottom of the fourth inning against Ceja. A Fran Whitten (Maine) error put the first batter of the inning on base. Four batters later, with runners on first and second with two outs, Connor McKay (Kansas) laced a two-run double off the wall in left-center field to tie the game. The next batter, Chris Woolley (Western Nevada CC) singled up the middle, scoring McKay to give Holyoke a 3-2 lead. All three runs in the inning were unearned, charged against Ceja.
The Blue Sox added three more runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Paul McConkey (Kentucky) led off the inning with a single, and subsequently stole a base to put him in scoring position. After the next batter walked, Connor Spencer (UC Irvine) singled up the middle to give Holyoke a 4-2 lead. Ceja was pulled from the game at that point, with Rob Rogers (Keystone College) called on the get Keene out of trouble. He was not able to however, allowing the two inherited runners to score, increasing the Blue Sox lead to 6-2.
Ceja worked his longest outing of the season for the Swamp Bats, going 4+ innings, allowing six runs (three earned) on seven hits with a season best five strikeouts.
With a limited amount of arms in the Swamp Bats bullpen, Brett Barrett (Southern Maine) was asked to pitch the bottom of the sixth inning for Keene. It is his first appearance as a pitcher this season for Keene, as he is normally a first baseman. He was hit hard for five runs which put the game out of reach for Keene.
Holyoke took game one 11-3 over the Swamp Bats. It represented the first time this season that Keene has dropped three consecutive games.
Game two was not much better for the Swamp Bats, specifically in the first inning.
After going 1-2-3 quietly in the top of the first, Holyoke brought nine batters to the plate in the bottom of the first, plating five runs to take an early lead.
Chad Rafferty (St. Joseph’s College of Maine) allowed five hits in the first inning, highlighted by an RBI triple for McConkey along with RBI base hits for Max Pentecost (Kennesaw St.) and McKay. Overall, the Blue Sox put up five runs with only three of them being earned against Rafferty.
The Swamp Bats started its comeback effort in the top of the third inning. Keene loaded the bases with one out for Walsh, who knocked a two-run single to center field to cut the lead to 5-2. The hit extended his hitting streak to nine games, while simultaneously extending his on-base streak to 22 consecutive games.
Rafferty bounced back nicely after his rough first inning, retiring nine of the next ten Holyoke batters to keep the game close. The lone exception came on a solo home run for Spencer, his second of the year, in the bottom of the third to extend Holyoke’s lead to 6-2.
Keene added a third run in the fourth on an RBI double from Whitten, scoring O’Brien from first base. The concluded the scoring however for the Swamp Bats.
Holyoke added two insurance runs in the sixth inning to officially put the game out of reach for Keene. The Blue Sox took game two over the Swamp Bats 8-3.
Rafferty suffered the loss for Keene after giving up six runs (four earned) in 4+ innings of work. The loss is his first of the season.
After being swept by the Blue Sox on Friday in the double-header, the Swamp Bats have dropped four consecutive games for the first time this season. Keene’s record falls to 23-10, still in first place in the Western Division, while Holyoke improves to 14-20.
The Swamp Bats are back in action Saturday night against the Danbury Westerners in its final game before the all-star break. First pitch from Rogers Park in Danbury, Conn. is scheduled for 6:30 pm.