NORTH ADAMS -- Chris Bielak was really good for six innings. No, check that. He was perfect for six innings.
The junior from Marist College sat down the first 18 batters he faced in order, recording six strikeouts in the process. He was locked in, and he knew it.
"After about the second inning [I knew I had control]," he said. "In the bullpen I felt great, and then just came out here and I really felt rolling in the fourth and fifth inning. Everything was working."
He lost his bid for perfection in the seventh when John Polonius beat out a chopper up the middle to leadoff the inning. But he didn't quit. Bielak walked off the mound one out away from a complete game. He earned his second win in three starts as the North Adams SteepleCats earned their second win in three games, 5-3 over Laconia.
"He did exactly what we expected of him. He was very sharp in his last outing at Danbury, so we knew he was capable of it," manager Bryan Adamski said. "He did a great job getting ahead of hitters all night."
Matt Longfield came on in the ninth for North Adams. He allowed a three-run home run, but then induced a grounder to third to end the game, and what the SteepleCats hope is a new winning streak.
North Adams started the season with four straight wins and won six of its first seven. Heading into Friday, though, it had lost four of its last five.
"We were rolling in the beginning of the year," Bielak said. "Offense
Bielak's strong start continued what he started in Danbury on June 15. The right-hander went six innings, allowed just two runs on six hits and struck out five for his first win.
He made it tough on Adamski to take him out when he was so close to a complete game.
"His pitch count was really low, which allowed him to go and even start the ninth inning. The problem is those two last batters he faced, he was just under 20 pitches, so it was time to get him out of there," Adamski said. "He has a college coach who has him for four years, which is much longer than I have him for. I have him for two months, so again, that was obviously in the back of my mind. We got to keep guys healthy and even at this point in the summer, we're going to need him to bounce back."
The offense finally gave him some run support in the fifth, after it was no-hit through the fourth.
Will Klausing led off with a single, and advanced on a fielder's choice before Dillon Bass drove him in with a two-out bloop single to left field.
The SteepleCats added to their lead in the sixth with a pair of runs. Sheehan Planas-Arteage got the inning going with a single and moved to third on a hit-and-run with Brett Clements, setting the stage for Bryan Soloman.
Soloman entered the game hitting just .179 (7 of 39). He was already 0 for 2, and his new opposite-field approach didn't appear to be working. Then he drew on some history he had with the pitcher he's faced since high school. He drove a first-pitch changeup to right-center field. It was just out of the reach of the center fielder and rolled to the fence for a two-run double.
He capped good offensive night with an RBI single in the seventh, for what proved to be the game-winning run.
"My approach has been just the left side the past 10 games I've played," he said. "Teams have been throwing me inside a lot, and I haven't expanded my own zone to the outside, so I looked opposite field my first hit, just looking away and driving it that way."