Tommy Joseph and Troy Schreffler put on a show Monday at Alumni Field in the Keene SwampBats’ 7-4 win over the North Shore Navigators.
The three- and four-hole hitters combined for six RBI — three each — including back-to-back homeruns in the third inning.
“It felt great,” Joseph said of his two-run homer in the third. “I actually told the guys before that it’d be cool if we did a hit-and-run. No hit-and-run, but we got a great result anyway.”
Their big day puts both of them in the top five in RBIs in the league. Joseph now has 27 RBI on the season — good for second in the league — and Schreffler is up to 23 RBI, which puts him tied for fourth.
The SwampBats used the third inning to pull away. Mike Nyisztor got things going with a leadoff infield single, hustling down the first base line to beat out the throw.
Joseph then put a ball in the rightfield trees to give Keene a 3-0 lead, and Schreffler made it 4-0 with an emphatic, 382-foot moonshot.
“Troy’s was an absolute bomb,” said Keene manager Shaun McKenna. “Definitely a great spark for us.”
“It just kind of happened,” Schreffler said. “I was just focused on staying up the middle and staying with my approach. It was a big momentum booster. We needed something to get the bats hot and I think that was something that really was able to get us going.”
“Guys got fired up, man,” Joseph said of Schreffler’s homerun. “Just going back-to-back, getting it going early, everyone was pumped.”
Joseph and Schreffler came through again in the fourth inning; Joseph with an RBI single, then Schreffler with an RBI fielder’s choice to extend the SwampBats’ lead to 6-0.
The Navigators (13-13-2) put together a productive inning in the top of the fifth, getting their first four hitters of the inning on base. Dylan Brazil drew a walk to lead off, then Matthias Haas, Logan Bravo and Joe Lomuscio rattled off three consecutive singles, including an RBI from Lomuscio.
The rally chased Keene’s starter, Taylor Lepard — who otherwise pitched a solid game — and Joel Rodriguez came in with the bases loaded and no outs in the fifth.
The Navigators scored on a sacrifice fly to make it 6-2, then Rodriguez recorded the final two outs to get out of the inning without any more damage.
Lepard pitched four scoreless innings before he was pulled after giving up the run in the fifth. He struck out four and gave up two earned runs on six hits.
Lepard didn’t give up any extra base hits. All six hits the Navigators had against the starter were singles.
“Not to take anything away from [the Navigators] — everyone in the league is a good team — but they didn’t have a lot of really hard-hit balls,” McKenna said. “That’s when you know your guys are dominating on the mound. Lepard did a really nice job and a lot of those hits were not hard hits.”
Rodriguez finished the fifth, pitched a 1-2-3 sixth, then gave up a leadoff homerun to Bravo — which hit the scoreboard in rightfield and reduced Keene’s lead to three runs.
Lomuscio picked up another hit — his fourth of five on the night — then Ryan Marra singled to move Lomuscio to second base, and that was the end of Rodriguez’s outing.
Lenny Washington struck out three of the first four batters he faced. He got through the seventh, then pitched a scoreless eighth and got through the ninth to pick up the win.
“Lenny shut it down, really good stuff,” McKenna said. “His ball was alive tonight.”
The SwampBats added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth when Mike Nyisztor was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to score Jared Payne.
The Navigators scored one in the ninth off a sac fly to make it 7-4, but Washington struck out pinch hitter Max Zajec after an 11-pitch battle of an at-bat to end the game.
“[Washington] competed every pitch,” McKenna said. “That’s not easy. But he’s a really good pitcher. He throws the ball hard. It was electric and he got [Zajec]. Fun stuff to watch. Overall a great win.”
With the win, the SwampBats hold on to the top spot in the Northern Division with 12 games left on the schedule. The Upper Valley Nighthawks sit a half-game behind Keene. The Nighthawks beat the Vermont Mountaineers Monday, 9-2.
Keene (19-11) visits Vermont (14-15) Tuesday. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.