The Erie Community College baseball team deserved better. In facing one of the top nationally-ranked teams in the country - Niagara County Community College - the Kats played the Thunderwolves even until the next to last inning when Niagara went ahead for the 5-2 final May 19.
The Kats out-hit the Thunderwolves 9-5, but it was the dozen stranded runners Erie left on the bags that allowed Niagara to overcome being out-hit by a near 2-1 margin and break a 2-2 game open late for the win. Erie left runners on the bases in seven of the game's nine innings that included a pair of runners five different times.
The Thunderwolves went ahead 1-0 after hitting a pair of doubles in the second. Marlison Brunken tied the game after taking advantage of a pair of errors by Niagara in the top of the fourth.
Niagara responded in the bottom of the fourth to re-take the lead 2-1, but Alex Lopez knocked in Ken Ruggiero in the fifth and the game remained tied until the eighth when Niagara tripled and eventually scored two walked runners for a three-run inning.
Eric Marriott was a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate and added a stolen base. Lopez also recorded a stolen base and finished with a pair of hits and one RBI. The remaining hits for Erie came from Brunken, Willy Arias and Jordan Huber.
Mike DeLeo almost went the distance from the mound in allowing just two earned runs through seven innings of work on four hits with no walks.
The Kats next take on Hudson Valley Community College May 20 at 12 p.m. and will play a second game afterward with a win against Hudson Valley at 7 p.m. against either Niagara or Genesee.