written by Anna Balch
The Raptors (3-3) gave league leading Essex Archers (7-1) an unexpected battle in one of the only games this season that the Archers have played past 7 innings,. With Zachary Longboy (8 IP, 5 SO) starting on the mound for the Raptors the Archers came out to a quick 3-0 lead in the top of the third. The Raptors came back in the bottom of the inning with four runs to take the lead. They were able to hold off the Archers with a strong pitching performance by Longboy in the second and added five more insurance runs to extend the lead to 9-3. Archers outfielder Ash Richardson commented “that’s the first time we’ve ever been down.”
But the Archers soon began their come back adding four runs in the third and the fourth. Zack got out of the two inning eight run attack when he forced a pop out to short and recorded a strike out for the third out. After four innings the score was now 13-11. In the top of the fifth inning the Raptors played tight defense but two singles and a two out error gave the Archers a run to bring the score within one. In the bottom of the inning, with the intent of extending the lead the Raptors couldn’t get runners on going down one, two, three.
It was only in the top of the sixth inning that the Archers scored two to take the lead 14-13. In the bottom of the inning a two out walk put the tying run on base but a ground out to the pitcher ended the inning. Two more runs for the Archers extended their lead in the top of the seventh. In the bottom of the inning Rob Jones (1H, 1RBI, 4R, 1SB, 2BB) reached on a error. Then a one out double, that many thought was out of the park, from Gil Medina (3H, 1 2B, 2RBI, 2R, 1SB) scored Jones. More errors from the Archers scored another Raptor to bring them within one.
Two more runs from the Archers extended their lead but the Raptors posed a threat in the bottom of the inning. Newcomer, Anna Balch who replaced the Raptors DH, singled with one out in the bottom of the eighth. She then stole second base and advanced to third on a passed ball before Brodie Caress (3H, 3R, 1BB, 4SB) walked to put runners at the corners. Caress then advanced to second on a ground out to third. With runners on second and third the Raptors then ended the inning, and the threat, with a long fly ball to center.
Balch replaced Longboy on the mound for the Raptors. The Archers added two more runs in the inning to make the lead 20-15. Eventually Balch recorded her first career strikeout to end the inning. The Raptors were shut down in the bottom of the inning and were unable to score ending the game with a final score of 20-15. Other top players for the Raptors were Glen Downer (2H, 4RBI, 2R, 1SB) and Ben Marques (2H, 1R, 2SB).
While it was a victory for the Archers, the Raptors were satisfied in taking the Archers to the ninth inning. The high scoring nine inning game was something new for the Archers as they rarely play a full nine innings. “It was really a tight match up until the end as both teams put up a great fight,” said Raptors manager Arnie Longboy. “I would love to face them again in the playoffs, but of course we’ll have to win the rest of games for that to happen. I think we can.”