Eric Hamilton’s night just kept getting better and better.
The hot-hitting DH came into Tuesday night’s game against the Martha's Vineyard Sharks one RBI shy of the FCBL single season record of 52. In the bottom of the third inning, Hamilton tied the record, scoring a run on a sacrifice fly out to left field, cutting the Suns’ deficit to 4-3.
The following inning, Hamilton hit a chopper that skipped off of the opposing pitcher’s glove and into the infield. The throw to first was not in time, and Kevin Donati scored to take a 6-5 lead. Hamilton was safe with a single and his 54th RBI of the season, shattering the league record.
Hamilton went on to crank a run-scoring double in the sixth inning, extending the Suns’ lead to 7-5 and his RBI total to 55.
His milestones all seemed to be worth it, as the Suns’ edged out the Sharks, rallying from a 4-1 hole and winning 8-6. The victory snapped Pittsfield’s three-game losing skid.
Hamilton finished the game with three hits in four at-bats, along with three RBI.
The Suns’ rally first began in the third inning, when Al Zachary hit an RBI ground rule double. His ball landed in the flooded territory in center field, which was blocked off by protective netting.
Because the ball landed in this area, Zachary’s hit was ruled a ground rule double.
Hamilton followed Zachary with his record-tying RBI sac fly. Two batters later, Justin Morhardt tied the game at four, bringing home Zachary with a double.
The Sharks regained the lead in the next inning, but Suns’ shortstop Thomas Hughes made it a 5-5 game with an RBI single. Insert Hamilton’s record-breaking hit, and the Suns had the lead for good.
The Suns scored their eighth and final run in the seventh frame. Hometown hero Kevin Donati hit an RBI sacrifice fly to left field. Like Hamilton, Donati also had a decorated night, going 3-for-4 with three singles, three runs, and a RBI.
Donati wasn’t the only Pittsfield native to shine; relief pitcher Alex Carusotto pitched clutch baseball. In the fifth inning, Carusotto came to the mound for only his third pitching appearance all season. The right-hander silenced the Sharks’ largest threat to the Suns’ lead.
With the bases loaded and no outs, Carusotto forced Martha’s Vineyard shortstop Jack Owens to fly out. The next at-bat, Carusotto got Dylan Maher to ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play. The Suns’ escaped the inning unscathed.
With a runner on third base in the ninth inning, Pittsfield reliever Matt Cuneo got Owens to fly out to center field, clinching a Suns’ win and earning the save. Cuneo may have had a little bit of luck; it was the reliever’s birthday on Tuesday. But suspicion should fool no loyal Suns fan. Cuneo’s strong inning was expected, matching the pattern of his impressive 2016 season (5-2, 2.22 ERA).
Suns’ reliever Kevin Hassett earned his second win. Coming out of the bullpen, Hassett pitched two no-hit innings. He allowed just one run and one walk, while striking out three Sharks.
Sharks’ starting pitcher Steven Collela lost his fifth contest, giving up six runs on 11 hits in 4.2 innings.
The Suns (18-29) return to Wahconah Park tomorrow night for a doubleheader against the Brockton Rox (27-24). The first game is slated to begin at 5:00 P.M., with the second leg starting at 7:00 P.M.