MAU comes out on top after wild battle

BENNINGTON — On a day more suited for a football game, the Mount Anthony and Hoosick Falls baseball teams went toe-to-toe in one of the more memorable games of their long-time rivalry.

In the end, the Patriots' Blake Carey drove in the winning run on a walk-off walk, his fifth free pass of the afternoon, as MAU came back from a 14-7 deficit to win 15-14.

"We told the guys, [Hoosick was] starting to have control problems," said MAU coach Walt Parmenter. "They weren't throwing a lot of strikes, so we told them to wait it out and make them throw strikes. Don't swing at bad pitches, a walk is as good as a hit. They were very patience at the end."

The game took 3 hours, 22 minutes to complete and there were about that many twists and turns.

It looked like the Panthers would take the first game of the two that the teams will play this year, going to the bottom of the seventh ahead 14-10. But as it did all day, walks hurt Hoosick Falls. Carey walked to start the inning and after a hit from Owen Wilcox, Cam Turner walked as a pinch hitter to load the bases with nobody out.

Tanner King came up as the tying run and was hit by a pitch to pull within 14-11 and that was all for reliever Max Kipp, replaced by sophomore Matt Bloomer. Bloomer had trouble finding the plate as well, walking the No. 9 hitter, Will Buck to force in another run to make it 14-12.

Bloomer got the first out when Will Fischer grounded back to him, but Cole Wilcox got a run home on a fielder choice where the Panthers' Andrew Stevens got an out on a force at third base.

"At that point, I told him, just throw batting practice," said Hoosick Falls coach Mike Lilac. "I don't care if he hits it over the houses, we don't want to walk guys."

Now, with the Patriots down 14-13 but two outs, Nate Coyne came up and also earned a free pass, bringing up cleanup hitter Jordan Sullivan with the bases loaded. The lefty Sullivan took a pitch to the leg to bring home Buck and tie the game at 14-14. That brought Carey up one more time to face Bloomer and he got ahead in the count 2-0 and 3-1 before Bloomer's final pitch was high, forcing home the winning run and setting off a celebration next to the MAU dugout.

"He had a good eye at the plate today and that was key," Parmenter said.

It was Hoosick's 19th free pass issued in the game.

"[Brandon] Decker and [Andrew] Stevens were ineligible to pitch, I knew it was up in the air as to what we were going to get," said Lilac. "[Hoosick starter] Cody Hodges gave us a chance to win, but then he hit his pitch limit. I understand the intent of the rule, I don't think Andrew would have gotten injured pitching an inning [Saturday] after he pitched Wednesday."

Pitch count rules that went into effect a couple of years ago require pitchers who reach the pitch limit of 105 take four days to rest. Stevens pitched Wednesday against Tamarac.

"It was just a matter of us running out of pitchers and not throwing strikes. Plain and simple," Lilac said. "It was good to see us battle and score runs."

Mount Anthony got on the board first in the bottom of the first inning with three runs after an RBI double from Sullivan, but Hoosick came back with a pair after hits from Hodges and Sam Richard. In the third, Hoosick took the lead when Bloomer walked and came around to score, but MAU took the lead 7-3 with a four-run third inning. In the frame, King and Buck had RBI singles, while Will Fischer had a RBI double.

In the fourth, MAU threatened again, but Hoosick starter Cody Hodges left the bases loaded.

Things started to fall apart in the top of the fifth as the Panthers scored nine times. Thirteen hitters came to the plate in the inning, the big blows a two-run double from Hodges and a bases-clearing triple by Bloomer to make the score 11-7. The Patriots also floundered in the field with three errors in the frame.

Cole Bushee started for MAU and allowed 11 runs in 4 2/3 innings, many of the runs unearned.

"He started out good and I think he tired out and lost control," Parmenter said. "Then he started aiming the ball and couldn't find the strike zone."

Cole Wilcox was 3-for-4 with a double, two singles, two RBI and two runs scored. Coyne was 0-1 with five walks, while Will Buck added two hits and three RBI. Hodges led the Panthers in hitting, going 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles, three RBI and two runs scored.

Hoosick extended the lead to 14-7 with two runs in the top of the sixth off reliever Dylan Babson, but MAU made it 14-10 with three runs of their own off Hodges and Kipp. Babson set down Hoosick in order in the top of the seventh — the only 1-2-3 of the day — giving MAU a chance to come back in the bottom of the seventh.

"He did a really good job coming off the bench cold, he threw strikes and made them put the ball in play," Parmenter said. "He kept us in the game. I knew these guys wouldn't quit, we don't quit. It's only two games, but we battle right to the end."

The Panthers are 0-4 on the year, while MAU improves to 1-1.

"It would have been nice to end the week on a high note, but instead it turned a tough week tougher, that's just how sports are," Lilac said.


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