Troy Schreffler continued his hot-hitting summer, extending his hit streak to seven games with a two-RBI double in the first inning of the Keene SwampBats’ 9-3 win over the North Adams SteepleCats Wednesday at Alumni Field.
With the win — the team’s third in a row and the 600th win in franchise history — the SwampBats keep the top spot in the Northern Division with 11 games left to play.
Keene’s four pitchers gave up the three runs on just two hits. None of the runs were earned.
“Pitching was outstanding,” said Keene manager Shaun McKenna. “Everyone. Pitching went really, really well today for sure.”
Zach Davidson was pitching a no-hitter through 4.2 innings before he ran into a bit of trouble in the fifth and was pulled for Calvin Bickerstaff. Davidson struck out eight and gave up two runs (none earned) on one hit.
“That’s probably the best I’ve seen him throw yet,” McKenna said. “He has really good stuff. He wanted to stay in, but I thought it was the right time to get him out. His pitch count was getting up there.”
Keene was in control early as Omar Daniels — in the leadoff spot as McKenna switched around the lineup Wednesday — drew a walk, then Mike Nyisztor singled to put runners on first and second.
Tommy Joseph grounded out to advance the runners, then Schreffler’s RBI double put two on the board in the first inning.
The SwampBats scored twice more in the third inning when Zach Bushling hit an RBI double of his own to score Nyisztor, then Schreffler scored Bushling on a sac fly.
Schreffler’s three RBIs Wednesday puts him at 26 on the season — tied for third in the league.
“He’s at his best when he lets the ball get there instead of going to get it,” McKenna said. “He hits a lot of balls that way. Really nice to have in that spot.”
Schreffler was pulled after the third inning. McKenna said Schreffler wasn’t feeling 100 percent, but he’s OK — just needed the rest of the night off.
Axel Melendez got in on the scoring with a homerun in the fourth inning to extend the SwampBats’ lead to 5-0.
The SteepleCats got some momentum in the fifth, taking advantage of two walks from Davidson and an error to score twice. North Adams scored two runs before recording a hit.
That was the end of Davidson’s outing. He struck out eight and gave up just the two runs, none earned.
Calvin Bickerstaff came out of the bullpen with two outs in the fifth and the bases loaded but forced a pop up to Daniels at second base to end the threat and keep the score at 5-2 Keene.
Bickerstaff came back out in the sixth and pitched a 1-2-3 inning before Grant Besser took over.
Besser recorded the first two outs of the seventh inning before Brandon Golinski hit a triple into leftfield. It looked like Tommy Joseph lost track of the ball, which let Golinski get to third base. Then he scored on a passed ball to cut the SwampBats’ lead to 5-3.
The SwampBats answered with a three-run seventh inning to all but put the game away.
Keene had the bases loaded with two outs, then Mike Nysiztor scored on a passed ball and Drake Westcott ripped a two-RBI double into rightfield and that was enough offense to secure the win.
“Really big hit for us right there,” McKenna said. “Happy for Drake.”
Kaleb Corbett took care of business in the eighth and ninth, hitting mid-90’s on his fastball. He struck out four of the five batters he faced.
“I don’t know if I’m ever really looking for the strikeout, I try to go pitch-by-pitch,” Corbett said.”Whatever I think the hitter is not looking for, I’m going to throw. Strikeouts will come, but for the most part I’m just trying to fool the hitter. That’s what the game is.”
“Again, best I’ve seen him yet this summer,” McKenna said. “Low-pressure situation, but he has to get his work in. He’s a pretty special kid when he’s dialed in like that. It’s impressive to see.”
The SwampBats (20-11) next host the Sanford Mainers (11-19) Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Alumni Field.