MANSFIELD, Pa. — And now we've got a series, folks.
After taking game one of the New York Collegiate Baseball League Western Division Championship Series, the Niagara Power dropped game two to the Mansfield Destroyers, 11-5. The two teams are now set up to play in a winner-takes-all game three on Friday in Sal Maglie Stadium, with the winner advancing to the NYCBL Championship round.
Following a scoreless first inning for both sides, the Destroyers turned things up in the second inning scoring three runs that were attributed to three hits and two Niagara errors. Mansfield was able to take the momentum of the second inning and carry that over into the bottom of the fourth. Before the Power knew it, they were battling back from a 8-1 deficit heading into the fifth.
Niagara did not go away gently into the night though — the top overall seed in the NYCBL playoffs would rally back with a strong three run fifth inning before Josh Surowiec's solo homer cut the margin to three in the top of the sixth.
The Destroyers, however, really cemented the game's outcome in the seventh. With two more Power errors and three crucial hits from Mansfield, the lead was set at 11-5 for good. For the Destroyers, Austin Schmitt (3-4, 2 RBI, 2 R), Eric Feliz (2-5, 3 RBI, R) and Colton Evans (2-4, 2 RBI) did the most damage on the night.
Head coach Arthur Stenberg acknowledged that his team may have shot themselves in the foot in Thursday's tilt, which ultimately lead to their undoing.
"A couple mistakes in the outfield, we dropped some fly balls that lead to probably about five runs," Stenberg said.
"A couple of bad base running mistakes, not getting ahead in counts. It all just kinda adds up for a long night on our part. It's been a while since we've done all three phases not so well. (But) that's why we play the games. It's a best-of-three so we're back at it (Friday), hopefully a little rested, ready to go right out of the shoot and paying attention to details.
Looking forward to Friday's game three, Stenberg is still supremely confident in his team and what his players can do.
"You know what, if this team shows up we'll be alright. If we get ahead in counts, if we dictate the pace of play like we've done all summer, meaning we dictate what transpires in our at bats, are aggressive and use the whole field and our pitchers get ahead and get us groundballs and pop-ups, we'll be okay. That's the beauty of this game."