SARANAC LAKE - Ending a slide and breaking a hex.
Saranac Lake's baseball team did both on Monday with a 4-3 walk-off victory in extra innings over visiting Northeastern Clinton.
The Red Storm scored three late runs to erase a 3-0 deficit, then triumphed in the bottom of the eighth inning when Grant Strack's sacrifice fly ball to center field drove in Logan Wood with the winning run. Wood reached base earlier in the inning with a lead-off single.
Logan Wood slides home with the winning run for Saranac Lake, beating the throw to Northeastern Clinton catcher Mason Letourneau as coach Bill Wilson cheers in the bottom of the eighth inning Monday in Saranac Lake.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
Heading into the game, Saranac Lake had lost its last three contests by one-run scores in the seventh inning. The Red Storm also had a five-game losing skid against the Cougars.
"We haven't really had the opportunity to win one like this," Saranac Lake head coach Bill Wilson said. "We were kind of undisciplined early, but we made some nice defensive plays and got the hits when we needed them. This was a game that was on our radar before the season started. They've come from behind the last five times we've played to beat us. This was one of the teams we really wanted to beat."
The Red Storm had plenty of heroes in the game, including Matt Phelan who drove in Saranac Lake's first two runs on a single with two outs. It was just the fourth hit of the season for Phelan, who has struggled at the plate with an injured shoulder. The junior also made a spectacular leaping, over-the-head catch on a hard-hit ball to save a run.
Nick Bayruns also came up big for the Red Storm with a single and a double. His first hit, a single, came in the fifth inning and broke up what had been a perfect game from Cougars pitcher Liam McDonough. Bayruns then doubled to lead off the seventh and reached home with the tying run on a passed ball to send the game into extra innings.
Doug Jock, who usually sits on the bench, sparkled for Saranac Lake as well. The little used junior led off the sixth with a single, scored the Red Storm's first run, and also sprinted down a ball hit to centerfield to make a tremendous catch.
"Doug doesn't play much, but he's the heart and soul of our baseball team," Wilson said. "I'm especially happy for him. When he got the chance, he came up big for us."
The Cougars, who fell to 5-4, scored single runs in the third, fifth and sixth innings to grab a 3-0 edge. They also had their way in the field early, as McDonough held Saranac Lake without a baserunner until Bayruns rapped his single with one-out in the fifth.
Trailing by three, the Red Storm finally came to life in the sixth when Jock singled and catcher Steve Rodriguez walked. The two then advanced to second and third base, and after Wood flew out to right and Dylan Gunther struck out, Phelan ripped a two-RBI single to right to make it a 3-2 contest. The Red Storm then came through with their runs in the seventh and eight to claim the win and improve to 5-7 in the CVAC.
Jon McCabe started on the mound for Saranac Lake, and was relieved in the sixth inning by Trent Fitzgerald, who tossed three innings to earn the win. McDonough struck out seven Red Storm batters before being replaced in the sixth inning by Marcus Lefebvre, who took the loss.
"In the end, we just didn't put them away," Cougars coach Jerry Davison said. "We let them hang in there. A couple of errors, a couple of hits and a couple of breaks turned the game in Saranac Lake's favor."
NCCS finished the game with a dozen hits. Rob Armstrong and Ben Leduc each collected a single and double to pace the Cougars at the plate. Josh Rabideau also had three singles for NCCS and McDonough singled twice. Matt Letourneau, Lefebvre and Kyle McCarthy chipped in with a single each for the Cougars.
Saranac Lake finished the game with six hits, with Gunther adding a single.
Monday's loss kicked off a busy week for the Cougars, who will play five games in as many days. They will host AuSable Valley today. Meanwhile, Saranac Lake will have a two-day break from competition until its next game Thursday on the road against Saranac Central.
Saranac Lake 4, Northeastern Clinton 3
|Cougars||001 011 00 — 3 12 3|
|Red Storm||000 002 11 — 4 6 2|
McDonough, Lefebvre (7) and Letourneau. McCabe, Fitzgerald (6) and Rodriguez. WP - Fitzgerald. LP - Lefebvre. 2B - Armstrong (NCCS), Leduc (NCCS), Bayruns (SL).