Surge break out of slump
SARANAC LAKE — The slide is finally over.
On Friday, the Saranac Lake Surge ended a six-game losing skid with a doubleheader sweep over the Road City Explorers in Empire Professional Baseball League action at the Petrova Avenue field.
After dropping their home-opener 10-6 on Thursday, the Surge rallied to win Friday’s first contest 8-7, and then had a much easier time in the second game, triumphing by a 12-3 score.
Both games were seven-inning contests.
“We tried to be the one — a real team,” Surge manager Ken Matsuzaka said. “We talked about that after the last game, and finally we worked together today. I hope we can keep working together just like today.
“We needed some wins,” Matsuzaka continued. “We wanted to be simple, stay aggressive, and we hit well. Baseball is simple. If you can be simple, you’re going to have a good game. Little things can turn out to be big.”
The Surge climbed out of a 6-2 hole to win the first matchup. The Explorers got off to a fast start, scoring three runs in their first at-bat to take a 3-0 edge. After going down in order in the bottom of the first, the Surge cut the deficit to 3-3 in their next at-bat, with Steven Octave and Jason Aponte both scoring on wild pitches. Octave reached base on an error, one of four committed by Road City in the game, and Aponte got on board with a one-out double.
The Explorers answered with another three-run burst in the top of the third, but Saranac Lake took over from there. The hosts scored three runs in the bottom of the frame to make it a 6-5 game, tied it up with a run in the fourth, and then took the lead for good, surging ahead 8-6 with a pair of runs in the fifth inning.
The Explorers scored the game’s final run in the top of the sixth to make the outcome an 8-6 final.
Connor Maguire, who graduated from Hudson University (Maine) in May, worked six innings on the mound to earn the pitching win. The native of Ellsworth, Maine, overcame a rocky top of the first that saw him hit the game’s opening batter and then give up two singles and a double. He allowed 11 hits, seven earned runs and struck out five.
“I started out rough. I was working on pretty short rest,” Maguire said. “My arm wasn’t great. I kind of had to focus on throwing strikes and getting them to hit outs rather than striking them out. It started working down the stretch. Once I settled in and our bats started coming alive, we took over.”
Center fielder Kyle Robinson went 3-for-4 at the plate to lead Saranac Lake. Aponte added two hits in the win, and teammates Alexander LaFayette, Daniel Dominguez and Stephen Octave finished with one hit each.
Ricky Schafer pitched the top of the seventh for the Surge and retired the Explorers in order, fanning two and getting a fly out to second base.
Ricky Marinez, LeoBaldo Cabrera, Randy Rubio, Abraham Longa and Issac Dominguez collected two hits each for the Explorers in the loss.
Saranac Lake didn’t wait around to make things happen in the second game, scoring runs in each of the first four innings. The Surge grabbed a 1-0 edge in their first at-bat, upped the lead to 4-0 in the bottom of the second, and then exploded for seven runs in the third inning to grab a commanding 11-1 edge. Saranac Lake tacked on one more run in the fourth, with Road City rounding out the scoring with two runs in the top of the seventh to complete the 12-3 final.
After being outhit 11-8 in the opener, Saranac Lake turned the tables in the second game, outhitting the Explorers 11-6.
Shortstop Skylar Mercado led the charge, collecting two hits, two runs and three RBIs. Robinson and Terrell Thompson added two hits each in the win, and LaFayette, Aponte, Jesse Russo Taran Tani and Brandon Camargo chipped a hit apiece. Russo, Tani, Camargo and Tyler Hill each recorded a pair of RBIs for the winners.
Marinez and Armando Valencia paced the Explorers at the plate with two hits each.
Quentin Oexner started on the mound for Saranac Lake and worked four innings to earn the victory.
The two wins were much needed after the Surge was swept last week during a five-game series in Plattsburgh against the Thunderbirds.
“We had some good pitching outings in Plattsburgh. We just couldn’t get enough runs to win,” Maguire said. “The past week, we haven’t been hitting well. It’s tough to win games when you don’t score runs. We hit well in the second game today. The first game, at the end of it we started hitting well and carried that over into the second game. It was great.”
The Surge improved to 5-9 with the victories and have three more games remaining over the weekend in their homestand at Petrova Avenue with the Explorers. The teams have one game on tap Saturday starting at 1 p.m., and then wrap up with another doubleheader Sunday in two seven-inning games slated to start at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.