Late Innings Very, Very Good to Nine
The upstart Yellow Springs Nine continued what some are beginning to think of as a miracle season by playing the poor host this week, inviting Calgary into their city and having them leave with four losses.
The Nine took the first game on 8th inning heroics that included a two-run triple by shortstop Miguel Padilla and a scratch infield hit from Brian Sullivan. Tarter Luis Colon was the benefactor, having hung in the game for 8 solid innings to run his record to 8-2 while posting a 3.75 ERA. The second victory came as an 8-1 bludgeoning, the majority of the damage coming, again, in the 8th inning in the form of a “7.” That 8th inning included doubles by George Roberton and Jose Machado, and a homer by lead-off man Mauro Saucedo. Machado had added an earlier home run. Reliever Emilio Gutierrez was awarded the victory, but it was clearly a team win as the staff of six pitchers held the Pioneers to only five hits and a single run while striking out ten.
“This is just a fun team to manage,” said Bill Inkster after the second game. “Every day its something else and someone else. And afterward they gang is just having fun hanging out and talking about how to get better. It’s like these guys are just now figuring out they’re pretty good.”
They were “pretty good” enough to eek out another late-inning victory the following day, taking a 5-4 win with two runs in the 8th and another in the ninth, the last coming in the form of a walk-off homer from “backup” catcher Nate Wood. It was Wood’s 7th homer of the season, done in only 100 at bats. “I’ve hit with some power before,” Wood said afterward. Wood has been starting full-time against left-handed pitching this season, as Aaron Stone has occasionally moved to DH to spell Lucas McNeill. “It felts good to be able to get out and make a difference.”
Alfredo Salazar also homered.
BLUES DOMINATES IN FIRST YS9 START
The Nine’s bats got the damage done earlier in the fourth game of the set, dropping a 5-spot in the 4th inning and adding two more in the 5th on the way to an 9-1 victory. Newly acquired Elwood Blues allowed a run in the first frame, then settled in to go 8 and a third innings for the win. He threw 97 pitches, 68 of them strikes. Six different Nine hitters doubled in the game, and Andy McKinney continued his long climb back with 1 hit, but added in two walks and a sacrifice fly to tally four RBI.
“Elwood was outstanding today,” said catcher Aaron Stone. “I just dropped a sign and he’d nod and hit the mitt. Makes it an easy day catching.”
The four game sweep left the Nine with an unexpected 44-23 record and the lead of the Heartland Division.
“There’s a long way to go,” Inkster said. “And a very good Seattle team is coming in here tomorrow. So let’s not talk about that.”
GM: Ron Collins