Slattery's slam caps rally for North County; Team rallies from 8-0 deficit.
AUBURN - North County fell behind Auburn, 8-0, after two innings, but a Matt Slattery grand slam capped a 10-run sixth inning that gave North County the lead and eventually the win, 13-8.
North County trailed by five runs entering the top of the sixth, and Auburn reliever Tyler Beede had retired the side in order in the fifth (with two strikeouts), so a rally seemed an extreme long shot. But after the leadoff batter popped out to begin the inning, seven consecutive hitters reached base.
Dave Plamondon's sacrifice fly scored Julio Torres and tied the game, 8-8, and Kyle Flanagan gave North County the lead when he singled home Frank Yavorosky.
"Hitting is contagious," North County coach Pete Slattery said. "Guys started to string some hits together, and it really snowballed."
Not satisfied with simply taking the lead, North County reloaded the bases against reliever Chris Ryan. Matt Slattery stepped in as a pinch hitter and unloaded on Ryan's 2-2 offering, sending the ball well over the center-field fence to make it 13-8.
"I felt really bad on my first two swings," Matt Slattery said. "I didn't feel comfortable, but he kind of grooved one and I hit it well."
Pete Slattery, Matt's father, wasn't surprised by the comeback or the grand slam.
"We've come to expect the big hit from Matt," he said. "He's having a great year, and this is a good team. They showed a lot of mental toughness and character to work their way back into this game."
The real hero for North County may have been pitcher Blaine McLean, who went the distance and held Auburn scoreless in the final five innings while North County made its comeback.
The game didn't start well for McLean. Josh Dufresne took him deep in the first inning to give Auburn a 2-0 lead.
Auburn scored four runs in each of the first two innings to build its 8-0 advantage, but McLean eventually worked through his difficulties and settled down.
The turnaround was improbable not only because Auburn hit him so hard in the first two innings, but because few coaches would stick with a pitcher taking that kind of beating.
"Most coaches would have pulled him early," Pete Slattery said. "I wanted to stick with him, though, and he showed a lot of guts to do what he did. He's got great endurance, and he never got flustered out there."
McLean threw 139 pitches over seven innings, striking out eight. After allowing 11 hits in the first two innings, he held Auburn to just three in the final five frames.
"I didn't let it get to me," McLean said of his early troubles. "I just tried to keep the ball low. I know we can hit at any time, like coach says, so I never felt like we were out of it."
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|Publication:||Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)|
|Date:||Jun 27, 2007|
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