It looked certain that the Scrappers and Jammers would go extra innings Sunday night. The offense was already a combined 1-10 with runners in scoring position heading into the ninth inning of a 1-1 tie. And even though they had the winning run on second with two-outs, they sent a struggling Robel Garcia to the plate, who entered the day batting just over the Mendoza Line at .210. But as tends to occur in baseball, what was expected didn’t happen, as Garcia was able to get the big hit the offense desperately needed, and give the Scrappers a big 2-1 walk-off victory.
Before the heroics, however, Luis Dejesus took the mound, looking to continue his dominance. He entered Sunday carrying a stellar 1.36 ERA, good enough to place him third in the New York-Penn League among qualified pitchers. He also ranks second on the team in strikeouts with 24.
The Scrapper offense needed a quality outing, too. In Saturday’s game, they managed only two hits, and were shut down by Jamestown starter Ramon Del Orbe. It was the same song, different verse Sunday,as they managed only a hit in the first three innings against starter MasonHope.
The Jammers did manage to score an early run against the stingy Dejesus. They were able to put their first batter in the inning when Matt Juengel led off with a single. Following him, Dejesus issued a walk and a wild pitch to put runners on second and third with no outs. Then he traded two-for-one, inducing a double play but allowing a run to score.
The offense was able to respond in fourth. Tyler Naquin doubled to second to start theframe, and after moving over on a wild pitch, was singled home by Joe Sever to knot the contest at one.
That was all either team would muster until the ninth in what was an old fashioned pitcher’s duel. Dejesus would make it through five, allowing just the one run on four hits. Jammer starter Mason Hope was as effective, tossing 5.2 innings with one run on four hits.
“I felt like I had my legs under me, even though it was hot outside,” said Dejesus of his outing. “I used my fastball a lot today, and I used my slider when I needed to. I had a couple hitters I knew would beaggressive so I threw first pitch sliders, but in I general I think I threw my fastball more today than I had in all my other starts. Overall, I felt good despite the heat.”
Relieving DeJesus after five was Robbie Aviles. Aviles was seeing his first action since July 9th after recovering from some arm issues. Aviles only pitched one inning, allowing a hit and a walk but no damage.
The Scrappers had several chances to steal a run in the later innings. Their first chance was in the sixth, when Charlie Valerio ripped a shot down the first base line that he legged into a triple. After Joe Sever walked, Evan Frazar went downon strikes to end the threat. They had another chance in the seventh, when Mitch Nilsson led off the inning with asingle. A sacrifice bunt and flyout moved him to third, but again they couldn’t capitalize. And then in the eighth, they had an almost identical situation, as Joey Wendle reached via a throwing error, stole second, and advance to third on a flyout. But again, nothing came of it.
Despite the inability to get a big hit, the game remained tied going into the ninth due to stellar pitching from the Scrapper bullpen, as Scott Peoples and Rafael Homblert joined Aviles in a solid relief effort. Peoples pitched a perfect seventh inning, and Homblert worked scoreless innings in the eighth and ninth to send the game to the bottom of the final frame a 1-1 tie.
Again in the ninth, the Scrappers had a scoring chance, just as they had had the previous three innings. Erik Gonzalez led off the inning with a single that he ricocheted off of the pitcher, allowing him to reach first. Then, Hunter Jones dropped down a perfect sacrifice bunt to advance Gonzalez to second. Finally, the Scrappers were able to get the big hit they were looking for, as Robel Garcia dropped in a liner to right field that allowed Gonzalez to score uncontested.
“It’s awesome,” said second baseman Joe Sever, who finished the night 2-2 with two walks and an RBI. “We have been struggling in key situations, and to have [Garcia] to come through with that big hit and save the bullpen from extra innings was big. Walking-off is always fun.”
Homblert picked up the win for the Scrappers, his first of the year, while Miguel Fermin was charged with the loss. The dramatic win brings the Scrappers back to .500 at 17-17. Now, they will look to pick up a little momentum on the road in Williamsport where they play two against the Crosscutters before returning home for a six game home stand.
Matt can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or followed on Twitter @MMillerBaseball.