TOWNSEND -- It was everything a person could want in a baseball game and a little bit more.
With its post-season hopes hanging in the balance, the North Middlesex baseball team came up with a comeback that kept hope alive. The Patriots rallied for three runs in the bottom of the seventh and then scored twice in the eighth to post a dramatic 14-13 victory over visiting Groton-Dunstable last Wednesday.
"This was a great game and it was great to see how hard both teams played throughout," said North Middlesex coach Tom Bartelson. "We needed this win and to have the kids fight back twice in the last two innings shows the character of this team. It is a big win for us and we need it to carry over and kick-start a late-season run."
Down 1-0, the Patriots struck for three runs in the bottom of the first. Tyler MacDonald led things off with a walk while Brandon Cole and Joe Smith followed with singles to load the bases. Kevin Powell then delivered a single to left-center field, plating both MacDonald and Cole. An error later in the inning eventually allowed Smith to score to give North Middlesex a 3-1 advantage.
The teams traded single runs in the second before the Crusaders came up with four runs in the third to retake the lead. Patrick Stevens reached second on an error and scored on an Adam Kmetz single. A single by Ben Butler and walk to Josh Acaba loaded the bases. With one out, Alex Dhionis lined a two-run double to left field and a passed ball later allowed Acaba to score, making it 6-4 Groton-Dunstable.
Some two-out magic allowed the Patriots to tie the game in the home half of the frame. Tony Sylvester led-off with a single, stole second and took third on a passed ball. After a fly out and pop out, Logan Kuzmitch laced an RBI triple into the right center field gap before scoring on a double by Zack Ryan that knotted the game at 6-6.
It took little time for the Crusaders to regain the advantage as they put up a three spot in the fourth inning. With one out, Stevens singled and took third on a Kmetz base hit. Butler then brought home a run with a fielder's choice while Acaba followed with an RBI single.
A passed ball later in the inning allowed Acaba to score, giving Groton-Dunstable a 9-6 edge.
An unearned run for North Middlesex and a solo home run by Dhionis for the Crusaders made it 10-7 heading to the bottom of the fifth. In that inning, the Patriots drew within one with a pair of runs. With one out, Ryan reached on a fielder's choice, MacDonald singled and Cole singled to load the bases. Smith then came up with a clutch two-run double that made it a 10-9 game.
A two-run sixth by the Crusaders made it 12-9 and it would remain that way until the bottom of the seventh when North Middlesex rallied to tie the contest. MacDonald reached on a fielder's choice and headed to third on a double by Cole. A walk to Smith loaded the bases for Powell, who came up with a two-run single up the middle. Smith eventually came around to score, tying the game and sending it to extra innings at 12-12.
Dhionis wasted little time give Groton-Dunstable the lead, launching a 3-2 pitch to deep center field for a solo home run to make it 13-12, but the Patriots had an answer in the home half. With one out, MacDonald singled and Cole was hit by a pitch before a ground out moved both runners into scoring position. That brought Powell to the plate and he delivered, lining the first pitch he saw up the middle for a two-run game-winning single.
What can you say about Kevin, he had a huge day for us and capped it off with the big hit to win it," said Bartelson. "Our top of the order with Tyler, Brandon, Joe and Kevin were big throughout the day. This was a big win for us and to get it in this manner makes it even sweeter."
Cole paced the North Middlesex offense with two doubles, two singles, a hit by pitch and four runs scored. Powell (six runs-batted-in) and Smith (two runs scored and two RBI) had three hits apiece. MacDonald had a walk, two singles and five runs scored while Jim Ciampi walked in all three plate appearances while picking up the win in relief.
Kmetz led the Crusaders with four singles and three runs scored. Dhionis finished with two homers, a double, a walk, two runs scored and four RBI. Butler added a double, two singles, three runs scored and an RBI while Stevens chipped in two singles and two runs scored.