Offense ruled the night Wednesday in a double-header between the Keene Swamp Bats and Winnipesaukee Muskrats at Alumni Field.
Winnipesaukee won the first seven-inning game, 15-5, while Keene took the second, 18-2, to snap a three-game losing streak. The second game was the highest-scoring outing for the Bats, while the opener was the second-highest for the Muskrats, who scored 17 runs in a 17-2 win over the Sanford Mainers July 1.
Keene is 15-10, and a few percentage points ahead of the Upper Valley Nighthawks (16-11) for second place in the Northern Division, with the first-place North Adams SteepleCats (16-8) holding a 1.5-game lead. Winnipesaukee is 7-17, and remains in the basement of the division.
The Bats host the Mainers tonight at 6:30 at Alumni.
On Friday, Keene begins a grueling road stretch with their only trip to Martha’s Vineyard, off Cape Cod. It entails a long bus ride to Woods Hole, a ferry-boat ride, and another bus to get to the field. Then, they have to reverse the process.
On Saturday, they face another long bus ride, this time to Danbury, Conn., for a late-afternoon game. Finally, on Sunday, they play another late-afternoon game at Sanford, Maine.
Logan Mathieu, who started the day with zero home runs, launched three balls over the fence — one in the first game and two in the second — to lead an explosive day that featured seven home runs for Keene.
David Bedgood hit his league-leading 10th homer in the first game, while Andrew MacNeil sent two deep in the second game and Ryan Hogan added one more in the second.
Mathieu also made his first pitching appearance, throwing 1.1 shutout innings of relief with no hits, two walks and three strikeouts to earn the win. Justin Willis pitched a shutout seventh to close it out.
Joseph Simeone threw 4.2 innings to start, so he wasn’t eligible for the win. He still had a solid outing, allowing two earned runs on three hits and three walks with nine strikeouts. Through four outings, including three starts, Simeone is averaging 18.36 strikeouts per nine innings, and has yet to throw less than six in a game.
The NECBL’s strikeout king, Luke Albright, didn’t fare so well in the first ame. He lasted just 1.2 innings, giving up seven runs, five earned, on three hits and four walks with three strikeouts to take the loss.
His relievers didn’t fare much better. Michael Bacica gave up seven earned runs, five hits and two walks in 3.2 innings of work while striking out eight. Erick Zecha pitched the last 0.2 innings, giving up one earned run on one hit and one walk.
Winnipesaukee jumped on Albright early in the first game, taking a 7-1 lead over Keene after two innings. The Bats cut the deficit to 7-4 through the top of the fourth, but the Muskrats put together a pair of four-run rallies, one in the bottom of the fourth and one in the sixth, to pull away for good.
The second game was practically the polar opposite. While Simeone kept Winnipesaukee at bay, Keene exploded for three runs in the first and six in the third to go up 9-0.
An RBI double by Will Wagner and two-run homer by Mathieu produced the runs in the first, while all the runs in the third came from two-run dingers: one by Mathieu, one by Hogan and one by MacNeil.
The Muskrats finally got their first score in the top of the fourth, but the Bats turned the game into a complete blowout with eight runs in the bottom half.
A wild pitch brought in Mathieu to start the scoring, then Justice Lucas and Mitchell Golden hit back-to-back RBI singles. Randy Bednar hit a two-run single later in the inning, followed by an RBI single from Wagner and an RBI double by Mathieu.
Mathieu’s double was one of six for Keene in the second game.