|Downer's Walkoff Lifts Lenox in BABL Finals|
|By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires.com Sports|
02:40PM / Saturday, August 24, 2019
|Mike Downer is greeted by his teammates after hitting a walkoff homer in the bottom of the eighth on Saturday at War Memorial Field.|
|Nick Greenleaf struck out five in four innings of scoreless relief in a no-decision for Lenox on Saturday.|
LENOX, Mass. -- Mike Downer picked the right time for his first time.
The Lenox High School graduate blasted a 1-1 pitch over the fence in left field Saturday afternoon at War Memorial Field to give the Lenox Bulldogs a 7-6 win over Berkshire Baseball Academy in the Berkshire Adult Baseball League championship series.
“That is actually the first one I ever hit here,” Downer said of the home run. “All throughout high school, all throughout this, it’s the first one I ever hit.”
The walkoff homer capped a four-run comeback for Lenox and gave the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three-series. The two teams will meet again on Sunday at 10 a.m. at the Dalton American Legion Field. BBA will need a win to force a winner-take-all Game 3 for the BABL 20-year-old division crown later Sunday.
In the 35-year-old division, the Dalton Moneymakers find themselves in the must-win situation after dropping Saturday’s Game 1 to the Adams Aces. Adams will try to close out their series on Sunday at 10 a.m. at Hoosac Valley High School.
In the 20s, Lenox has made a habit of dramatic wins.
“That’s what we’ve done the whole year,” Downer said of Saturday’s comeback. “I don’t know if you saw any stats from the [semi-final series win], but we went into the last inning of Game 3 down 4-1 and came back in the top of the seventh and ended up winning.
“That’s how we got here. That’s what we do.”
On Saturday, BBA took control of the game with a five-run third to erase an early 2-1 deficit.
Connor Lein (2-for-4) led off the top of the third by dropping a double into right-center.
After Dave DiNicola worked a walk, Joe Bateman (2-for-5) hit a two-run single to right to give BBA the lead.
Two more walks loaded the bases for Christian Robitille, who singled to right to make it 5-2. Ryan Shook picked up an RBI with a ground ball to the right side that gave his team a four-run cushion.
Lenox answered right back with two runs in the bottom of the third.
Downer got things started by reaching on a two-base error and scored on a single by Justin Hopkins. Hopkins moved up on a single by T.J. Shumsky (2-for-4) and a groundout before scoring on Nick Greenleaf’s RBI groundball.
It stayed 6-4 into the sixth as BBA reliever Shook retired six in a row at one point. But he ran into trouble with two-out in the bottom of the sixth.
Lenox’s No. 9 hitter, Tom Duffin, dropped a two-out single into left and stole second. A couple of pitches that got to the backstop allowed Duffin to score before Shook could retire the side.
In the bottom of the seventh, a leadoff walk by Kyle Hopkins chased Shook. Hunter Abriel was hit by a pitch, and a double steal put two men in scoring position with one out.
BBA’s Connor Lein got the next hitter to fly out to center field for no damage, but he then hit Duffin to load the bases with two out.
Dan Fuore delivered a bashit into left that scored Hopkins, but BBA’s Richard Dumas fired home to Robitelle, who applied the tag and ended the seventh inning with the score tied, 6-6.
Fuore, who came on to start the seventh after Mike Hurley and Nick Greenleaf (four innings, five strikeouts, no earned runs), stranded a potential go-ahead run in the top of the eighth with a pair of groundball outs to shortstop Justin Hopkins.
That set the stage for Downer to leadoff the bottom of the frame.
“I was talking to my dad and all my teammates, and they said, ‘Try to get your pitch. The first one, if it’s there, try to take a hack at it. Just try to get a basehit,’ “ Downer said. “That’s what I did. It was there, and I drove it.
“I gotta thank all these guys for giving me the confidence. That’s what it’s all about. It’s a team effort.”