David Matthews hadn’t homered in nearly three weeks. Frustrated, he was quite vocal about it.
“I just try to calm myself down and not get to worked up over things, the Keene Swamp Bats player said prior to Sunday’s road game. “Sometimes, you just get into slumps.”
Patience pays, perhaps.
The Central Connecticut State slugger launched a pinch-hit solo dinger to right to pull Keene to within two runs in the seventh at Sanford, Maine. The blast was not wasted; the Bats went on to win a nail-biter, 7-6.
These NECBL rivals will stay hooked up. They go right back at it again today, this time for a twin bill in Keene. The first game starts at 4 p.m. After that, Keene returns to Sanford for a final regular-season contest July 29.
Keene is 17-11 and a half game behind division-leading North Adams. Sanford has slipped to 10-18 and finds itself 10.5 games back.
Three games separate the top five teams in the division, all of whom are 6-4 in the past 10 games.
Sunday, Keene turned what would have been a big-time Sanford win into a heartbreaker for its fans.
Sanford struck first to go up 2-0, but Keene’s dangerous lineup had the final say.
Keene took the lead back in the third with a two-run double from David Bedgood, his 32nd RBI, which leads the team.
Logan Mathieu then singled to right, bringing in Bedgood.
Keene maintained its 3-2 lead for about an inning. Then Keene starter Michael Bacica began to struggle.
The right hander, who gave up three earned runs in 3.1 innings pitched, gave up the lead in the fourth when he tried to sneak a fastball from closer Matthew Pushard. After Mathieu walked and Kyle Ball singled, the bases were full.
Pushard, who struggled with pitch command throughout his entire relief appearance, fired a passed ball to score Wagner.
Pushard then walked Matthews on five pitches, and walked Seth Caddell, scoring Ryan Hogan, who was pinch running for Mathieu.
Andrew MacNeil then laced a single into the right field Bermuda triangle. The ball sailed just over the glove of Sanford second basemen Drew DeMartino, allowing Ball to score easily, but Matthews was gunned out at home, keeping it a one run Keene lead.
Justin Willis, pitching in the ninth, retired the final three Sanford hitters.
Riding a two-game win streak, Zach Messinger will look to make it three in a row today in the first of two scheduled games.