** The following is an official recap from WashingtonWildThings.com **
WASHINGTON, Pa.—With the Washington Wild Things, presented by Washington Financial, down 9-6 in the top of the ninth, second baseman CJ Beatty hit a bases load double to tie it at nine, but the Normal Cornbelters won it in the bottom of ninth, 10-9, at the Corn Crib on Thursday.
Normal (16-8) opened the bottom of the ninth with two straight singles by third baseman T.J. Galvitz and first baseman Mike Schwartz off reliever Alfonso Yevoli (0-2). Manager Bart Zeller brought in reliever Zach Fleshman who intentionally walked shortstop Patrick McKenna and loaded the bases with one out. Fleshman got designated hitter Romulo Ruiz to ground the ball to third baseman Jovan Rosa, but the Wild Things (14-9) could not turn the double play to end the game, instead lost in heartbreaking fashion.
Normal came out with a bang in the bottom of the first.
Schwartz took the second pitch he saw from Lee for a lead-off triple. He would score on a fielder’s choice from McKenna giving the Cornbelters a 1-0 lead.
This lead wouldn’t last long; first baseman Stewart Ijames continued his hot bat with a one-out ground rule double. A single from shortstop AJ Nunziato would tie the game at one. Normal starter Drew Provence threw a wild pitch advancing Nunziato to second. Centerfielder Darian Sandford hit the second double of the inning to put the Wild Things up 2-1.
On a 3-0 count in the bottom of the second, right fielder David Medina swung away and it paid off as he hit a single off Gary Lee. Lee would get the next two batters out, but this advanced Medina to third. Left fielder Keoni Manago launched a ball that would hop over the fence for a ground rule double and tie these teams at two.
In the top of the third, third baseman Jovan Rosa got a one-out single and designated hitter Mark Samuelson followed this with a ground rule double putting runners on second and third. Left fielder Rogelio Noris plated Rosa with a sacrifice fly to center, putting Washington back up 3-2.
Bottom of the sixth Normal would tie the game at three.
The Cornbelters open with runners on second and third and no outs by way of a center fielder Matt Wright reaching on a Rosa error, Manago followed with a ground rule double. Wright was called out at home on a third baseman T.J. Gavlik ground ball to first. Manago scored from a Schwartz sacrifice fly the following at-bat. Washington opened the top of sixth with the bases loaded. Nunziato, who started the inning with a double, touched home when second baseman CJ Beatty grounded out to second, but the Wild Things still took a 4-3 lead. Provance was pulled after this; he worked five and 2/3 innings allowing five runs on 10 hits. Normal brought in reliever Jose Trinadad. Trinadad walked Samuelson to score catcher Jim Vahalik and push the Washington lead to 5-3.
First baseman Mike Schwartz hit an RBI double cutting the lead to one for Washington. Second baseman Santiago Chirno gave Normal their first lead since the bottom of the first, 6-5, with a two-run RBI single.
Manager Bob Zeller would pull starter Gary Lee and go to Will Scott. Following a walk, Scott would allowed a three-run homerun to Romulo Ruiz. This gave the Cornbelters a 9-5 lead.
Lee pitched 6 and 2/3 innings allowing seven runs on nine hits and striking out six in the loss.
The Wild Things and Evansville Otters open a three game series on Friday at CONSOL Energy Park. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. and tickets can be purchased online at www.washingtonwildthings.com or by stopping at the CONSOL Energy Park Box Office.
By Michael Telek
Photo Credit: Flickr.com