Down 2-1 in the best of seven NSBL finals, the Swampscott Sox were looking to knot the series at two apiece. But the Sox finished on the wrong end of a sloppy, back-and-forth game, falling to Kingston, 9-8, in eight innings.
“Our backs are against the wall now,” said Swampscott manager Joe Caponigro. “We need to play better and win Thursday.”
The Night Owls struck first after 2 1/2 innings of scoreless ball, as Joe Murphy singled, swiped second, and came around on Nick Shumski’s single to right. The Sox got starter Ben Kendrew out of any further trouble, turning a nifty double play to end the frame.
Kingston starter Nick Musto encountered a jam of his own in the fourth, as Elvis Rodriguez and Joe Kasper singled with one out. This time, it was Kingston’s turn for an inning-ending double play to hold onto the one run lead.
In the fifth, Swampscott took advantage of defensive miscues to get on the board. Sean Callahan took over on the mound for Musto after 4 1/3, and Swampscott’s luck began to turn. Kyle O’Connor singled in Brian Maynard, and then Esteban Paula hit a grounder that bounced around and was thrown over the first baseman’s head, allowing three Sox to score. All of a sudden, the Sox held a 4-1 lead.
Kingston started climbing back in the sixth. Shumski knocked in a run to make it 4-2, and two bases-loaded walks brought in Nick Comei and Shumski. That’d do it for Kendrew, who was relieved by Chris Murphy, but the damage was done as Kingston tied it, 4-4.
In the seventh, Swampscott reclaimed the lead as Kasper’s singled drove in O’Connor. The lead did not last long however, as Kingston plated on in the bottom of the frame to push Game 4 to extra innings.
The Sox wasted no time in getting the lead back. Maynard, who went 3-for-3, tripled and was brought in on Clemente Parra’s sac fly to make it 6-5. Junior Santos added to the lead, taking home on a wild pitch. An error allowed O’Connor (4-for-5, 3 runs) to score to add another insurance run.
Again, the Sox saw their lead evaporate in the bottom of the inning, as two walks and a hit batter loaded the bases. Two bases-loaded walks brought the Night Owls within one, 8-7,before Shumski knocked in two runs, his fourth and fifth RBI of the night, to seal the 9-8 win and give Kingston a 3-1 series lead.
The series moves back to Swampscott tonight, as the Sox look to stay alive. First pitch is at 6:30 at the Forest Ave. baseball complex.