It was another split for Coach Rob Meade and his North Adams Green Devils baseball squad last Wednesday and Thursday, beginning with a big 8-6 league win over the Eastern Warriors and then concluding with 4-2 loss to the Westfall Mustangs in a game played at the home stadium of the Chillicothe Paints, V.A. Memorial Stadium.
In the Eastern game, a Southern Hills Athletic Conference contest played in Seaman, the Devils jumped to a quick 5-1 lead, getting two in the second, one in the third, and two more in the fourth. Eastern bounced back with three unearned runs in the top of the fifth off North Adams starter Mikey Sheeley, but the Devils had an answer for that, getting three of their own in the bottom of the frame, two coming on RBI base hits by Ethan Brown and Blake Bradley.
After a scoreless sixth on both sides, the Warriors came to bat in the seventh and scored two more unearned runs before reliever Hank Sparks finally closed the door on an 8-6 North Adams victory.
“I was very pleased with the way we competed today,” said Meade after the game. “We made some mistakes but we didn’t let it snowball like we have in other games. Mikey Sheeley threw the ball very well and kept the Eastern hitters off-balance. Hank handled some adversity very well in the top of the seventh to earn a save.”
“Ethan Brown was clutch at the plate and came up big for us. Kenny Branch was exceptional behind the plate, throwing out two runners at crucial points in the game.”
Sheeley and Brown each contributed two hits to the North Adams offensive attack, with Brown driving home three runs. Cody Hall and Devin Gardner each scored a pair of runs. Sheeley went six innings for the win. scattering six hits, walking two and striking out two. Sparks got the final three outs for the save.
The following day the Devils made a road trip that none of them minded taking, traveling to V.A. Stadium in Chillicothe for a non-league battle with the Westfall Mustangs.
North Adams struck first, getting a pair of runs in the top of the first. Sheeley led off the game with a base hit, followed by an infield hit by Nathan Davis. Sparks walked to load the bases with no outs and it looked like the visitors were on their way to a big inning.
The hopes of a big inning fizzled somewhat when Haden Anderson grounded into a double play, though Sheeley scored on the play and when Cody Hall’s grounder to short was misplayed, Davis scored to give the Devils an early 2-0 advantage. Those turned out to be the only runs that North Adams scored as they were blanked the rest of the way by Westfall pitching.
On the mound at game’s beginning for the Devils was Caleb Wagers and he shut out the Mustangs for the first three innings but ran into trouble in the fourth, giving up two runs to tie the score. In the bottom of the fourth, the Mustangs scored two more to take a 4-2 lead, the eventual winning margin.
North Adams got walks to Sparks and Gardner in the sixth but couldn’t get them home and filled the bases in the seventh but again could not push any runs across as the Mustangs escaped with the 4-2 victory.
“Although we came out on the short side in this game, it was a good experience for us,” said Coach Meade. “Throughout the game we made solid contact but were unable to find any holes. We got the bases loaded in the top of the seventh and their shortstop made a great play on a hard line drive by Haden Anderson that would have tied the game. Caleb Wagers threw the ball well for us and again Hank did a nice job in relief.”
Wagers took the loss for North Adams, going 4 2/3 innings and allowing four earned runs on just three hits while striking out one. Sparks pitched the final 1 1/3 for the Devils and held the Mustangs scoreless. The Devils only managed four hits on offense, half of those belonging to Mikey Sheeley, the others to Kenny Branch and Nathan Davis.
The win and loss left the Devils with a 3-4 record at the end of last week, 2-2 in the SHAC. (On Monday , the Devils lost an 8-7 decision in extra innings to Fayetteville to go 3-5. Look for a report on that game in the upcoming weekend edition of The People’s Defender.)
Mark Carpenter can be reached at 937-544-2391 or on Twitter @adamscosports.