SARANAC LAKE — The Saranac Lake Surge didn’t get off to a good start playing at home when it lost its inaugural game at the Petrova Avenue diamond by a 10-6 score on Thursday against the Road City Explorers.
The Surge, however, came through in a big way after that set back, taking the next five games from the Explorers to close out the home stand with a 5-1 record.
The Surge’s most recent victories came on Sunday in a doubleheader sweep of Road City that closed out a six-game series. In a pair of close seven-inning contests, Saranac Lake triumphed by 3-2 and 9-6 scores.
Saranac Lake now has a five-game win streak and improved to 8-9 in Empire Professional Baseball League play. The Surge started the string with another doubleheader sweep Friday that included 8-7 and 12-3 victories. The team’s third win was another 8-7 decision in a nine-inning contest on Saturday that took place after a three-hour rain delay.
With the five wins, the Surge got back on track after enduring a six-game losing slide, which included five straight losses against the unbeaten Plattsburgh Thunderbirds.
Ricky Schafer, a 26-year-old from Mission Viejo, California, went the distance in Sunday’s first matchup to earn a complete-game win. He tossed a five-hitter in the process.
“Just trying to improve all the time,” said Schafer, who posted an 8-1 record pitching in the EPBL a season ago. “It was a good game, it was a close game, so that’s always fun. We had some pretty close games this week. For the most part, they were tight, and it’s fun being a part of that.
“We started the season with a long road trip. We got a couple days break, so some guys got some rest,” he added. “We kind of came into this series with a little different approach hitting wise; better at-bats and hitting the ball a lot better, and that helps a lot. There’s a lot of talent on the team. Hopefully, we can keep putting it together and keep doing well.”
The Explorers fell to 6-9 with the loss.
“We had good momentum going into the series,” Road City manager Joey Molina said. “We have to fix some base-running mistakes immediately in order to compete and get those games that are close.
“Right now, it is the base running. We have hitters. We’re averaging seven runs a game, and if you lose scoring like that, there’s something wrong there. It is the mental mistakes,” Molina continued. “I have nothing against physical mistakes. You’re going to have them. Bad throws, missed balls, whatever. Mental mistakes are unacceptable. At this level of the game, they will make or break you.”
“This series, we had to work together, stick together, put the ball in play,” Surge manager Ken Matsuzaka said. “We are glad to show what we got. We played some good games.
“I’ve seen a lot of improvement from day one,” Matsuzaka continued. “I know what they are capable of, that’s why I drafted them.”
The Surge return to action Wednesday on the road for their second series at Memorial Field against the New Hampshire Wild. The teams are slated to play four games in four days. Each team won three times during a six-game series in Concord to open their EPBL schedules.