Coming off a 4-3 extra inning loss against the Valley Blue Sox on Sunday, the Gulls needed a momentum boost when they hosted the Keene Swamp Bats in a rematch of the 2013 NECBL Championship series on Monday. In front of a crowd of 1,610 fans at Cardines Field, stellar pitching and two RBI’s by Blaise Salter lifted the Gulls to a 2-0 victory over the Swamp Bats.
The Gulls got their offense going in the bottom of the second, as Salter blasted a solo home run over the right field fence against Swamp Bats starter Dominic Severino. Salter’s home run, his second of the season, propelled the Gulls to a 1-0 lead.
Making his third start of the summer, Mike Mancuso had great command of his arsenal of pitches, resulting in a solid outing for the junior from the University Georgia. In six innings of work, Mancuso allowed no runs on five hits, striking out six hitters. He even retired seven batters in a row at one point during the game, striking out two batters during that stretch.
After allowing a double to Jared Mederos to lead off the top of the seventh, Mancuso’s night came to a close when manager Mike Coombs elected to go to the bullpen. Southpaw Marc Huberman, making his seventh appearance of the summer, came into the game for the Gulls. With Mederos advancing to third on a wild pitch, Huberman retired the next three batters, including striking out catcher Connor Fitzsimons to end the jam. The Gulls still maintained a 1-0 lead over the Swamp Bats heading into the bottom of the seventh.
Huberman came back into the game for the top of the eighth. After allowing an infield single to Alex Liquori, Huberman retired Brady Sheetz on a sacrifice bunt. On a heads-up defensive play, the Gulls were able to get Liquori stuck in a rundown, ultimately culminating in a 5-4-5 pickle for the Gulls. With two runners in scoring position and two outs, Huberman struck out Conner Simonetti to evade the threats with the Gulls lead still leading 1-0 after eight innings.
Salter continued his offensive surge in the bottom of the eighth, driving home Ben Roberts on an RBI single to center. Despite a double play by Nick Zammarelli to end the eighth, the Gulls increased their advantageous lead to 2-0.
In his third inning of relief, Huberman looked to continue his stellar relief performance against the lower part of the Swamp Bats lineup. The lefty from Southern California proceeded to retire the next three batters with groundouts, securing the victory for the Gulls.
With the win, the Gulls improve their record to 10-4 in 2014, becoming the first team to win ten games in the NECBL this season. Since the Plymouth Pilgrims defeated the Mystic Schooners on Monday evening, the Gulls are still tied for first in the NECBL Southern Division with the Pilgrims, leading the Waves and Schooners by two games.
The Gulls will return to action tomorrow evening when they travel to Paul Walsh Field to face the New Bedford Bay Sox in an NECBL Southern Division showdown. Mick Van Vossen (2-0, 0.82 ERA), who struck out 11 Bay Sox batters in his first appearance on June 11, will get the start for the Gulls, while the Bay Sox counter with James Gutkowski (0-1, 6.75 ERA). First pitch will take place at 6:30, as Nick Lima and Tom Porter bring you the call on the NECBL Broadcast Network. The Gulls return home on Wednesday to host the North Adams SteepleCats.