LINCOLN – Most skippers would agree: You take 'em how you can get 'em.
Upper Deck Post 86-14 took advantage of seven walks, a hit batsmen and three errors – all in a nine-run fifth frame – to register a stunning, come-from-behind 11-6 marathon victory over Navigant Post 85 at Chet Nichols Memorial Field on Monday night.
With the triumph, Upper Deck – which mustered only three hits in the contest – remained in first place in R.I. American Legion League-North Division action at 13-3 (18-5 overall), while co-manager Jim Gauthier's club fell to 12-5 in league play.
Righty reliever Jake Keefe ended up with the win after yielding two hits, one run (on a balk) and a walk while whiffing two. Jon Almeida, who surrendered three straight walks and struck a batter in the fifth, took the loss.
Righty starter E.J. Torres had pitched rather well in his first four frames, allowing just two hits and a run (on Matt Billington's groundout) in the fourth, but all that changed in the fifth, with Navigan guarding a 4-1 lead.
Brody Santilli reached on an error, took second when Tyler Calabro walked and – with one down – Christian Spader loaded the bags with another fourth ball. That's when Almeida took to the hill, and walked Doug Harrison, Alec Cronan and Matt Billington, all of whom recorded RBI.
He then hit No. 9 batter Sam Brito to plate Doug Harrison, and – suddenly – Upper Deck had a 6-4 cushion.
The hosts notched four more runs in the inning, three coming on miscues, and Post 86-14 went into the top of the sixth with a 10-4 advantage.
After retiring six straight in the initial two frames, UD righty starter Eric Murray yielded a triple to Aaron Catarina, and issued a one-out walk to Almeida before Will Andino scored Catarina with a hard single to right in the third. Brandon Rainville then struck out, but Tyler Geffert's double at least 360 feet to left plated Almeida and Andino to gain the 3-0 lead.
Upper Deck registered its first run when Christian Sapder singled, moved to second when it scooted past center fielder Andino and scored on Billington's groundout to short.
Navigant got that run back in the3 fifth when, with the bags loaded, reliever Keefe balked in Rainville; that made it 4-1.
The floodgates of walks opened in the back half, with Navigant surrendering five straight bases-jammed walks and the hit batsman, the RBI going to Billington, Sam Brito, Josh Brodeur and Calabro.
UD managed a final run after Doug Harrison tripled and scored on Alec Cronan's sacrifice fly to center.
Post 85 experienced a bit of consolation when Matt Bare doubled to open the seventh and scored on Catarina's fielder's choice, and Kory Lawrence's infield hit plated Andreas Brackett, who had walked.
These two squads will battle again tonight at Renaud Field at 5:45, then face each other again back at Chet Nichols diamond on Thursday at 6:45 p.m.
Navigant Post 85 003 010 2 – 6 – 9 – 5
Upper Deck Post 86-14 000 191 x – 11 – 3 – 1
E.J. Torres, Jon Almeida (5), Tyler Geffert (5), Victor Hunt (7) and Matt Bare. Eric Murray, Jake Keefe (5), Brody Santilli (7), Keefe (7) and Matt Billington. 2B – Geffert, Bare. 3B – Aaron Catalina, Doug Harrison.