Sounds, Pinder streaks reach nine in walk-off win
The Nashville Sounds and Chad Pinder both got off to a slow start this season, but both the team and its starting shortstop were too talented to be kept down for long. With Pinder and several of his Nashville teammates swinging hot bats, the Sounds are suddenly the hottest team in the Pacific Coast League.
Coming into Tuesday's contest with Round Rock, the Sounds were riding an eight-game winning streak. That streak appeared in jeopardy on several occasions in the later innings of Tuesday's game, but the Sounds wouldn't go down without a fight. Down to their last strike on several occasions, the Sounds fought off the Express for a 7-6 win in 12 innings.
Early on, the game was a pitching duel between Chris Smith and Nick Tepesch. Smith struck-out 10 batters in 5.2 innings of work, but he left the game trailing after allowing three runs in those 5.2 innings. Down 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth, the Sounds scratched across single runs in the sixth and seventh to tie the game at three. The game remained tied into the 10th inning despite Nashville getting a lead-off double by Matt Olson in the bottom of the ninth.
In the 10th, the normally reliable Tucker Healy ran into some trouble, much of it of his own making. After allowing a lead-off double to James Jones, Healy threw away Delino DeShields' sacrifice bunt attempt. The error allowed Jones to score and put DeShields in scoring position with no outs. He then scored on a Drew Robinson double, but Healy was able to buckle down and limit the damage to just two runs.
In the bottom of the 10th, the Sounds received a one-out walk to Renato Nunez and a single to Andrew Lambo. Ryon Healy struck-out and the Sounds were down to their final out. Up came Olson, who had doubled and walked earlier in the game. He was quickly down 0-2 but fought off several tough pitches. On a 2-2 pitch (the seventh of the at-bat), Olson cracked a liner into the gap in right-center. Both runners scored easily. Pinder wasn't able to bring Olson home, however, and the game went into the 11th.
After both teams swapped zeroes in the 11th, the Express once again took the lead in the 12th. With two-outs, Brett Nicholas -- in the game at first base because Joey Gallo had been ejected early in the game -- lined a single to right off Ryan Doolittle to score Robinson. That put Nashville again on the brink of their first loss in more than a week.
The Sounds got the 11th inning off to a good start when Max Muncy walked on four pitches. However, he was still at first two outs later when Ryon Healy came to the plate. Much like Olson did in the 10th inning, Healy found himself down to his final strike before finding a pitch to his liking. He lined what looked off the bat like a game-tying double down the left field line. On his way home as the tying run, Muncy stumbled coming around third, however, and had to crawl back into third to avoid making the final out of the game.
The Express elected to intentionally walk Olson, bringing up Pinder with the bases-loaded and two-outs. Pinder got himself into a favorable 2-1 count and took a Carlos Fisher pitch into the right field corner, roughly a foot fair. Muncy and Healy scored easily and the Sounds had their ninth win in a row. Pinder also extended his hitting streak to nine games with a two-hit evening. He is batting .280 in May and .261 for the season. Olson reached base three times and he finishes May with an even 800 OPS. His season OPS is up to 735 after a very slow start. Ryon Healy and Joey Wendle also had two-hit games. Healy is batting .370 since arriving in Triple-A. He has six multi-hit games over his last 10 games. Wendle has a six-game hitting streak.
Bullpen pitches a gem as 'Hounds beat Cardinals, rain
A more than one hour long rain delay cut short starter Chris Jensen's night after just an inning, forcing the Midland RockHounds to turn to their bullpen early. The bullpen responded in a big way, throwing eight shutout innings, as Midland beat Springfield, 5-0.
Jensen worked a quick one-two-three inning in the top of the first, and the RockHounds got to work early offensively in the bottom half of the frame. Although the rally was interrupted by more than an hour due to rain, the RockHounds batted around and scored five times to give themselves an early lead. Brett Vertigan reached on an error to start the rally and then singled home the fifth run of the inning nearly two hours later. In between Vertigan at-bats, the RockHounds would collect four singles and a walk.
That's all of the offense the RockHounds would muster, but it would be more than enough. Ben Bracewell took over for Jensen in the second inning and he whipped through four efficient, scoreless innings. Bracewell allowed just two hits and a walk and he struck-out three. He lowered his Double-A ERA to 1.66 and picked up his second win for Midland. Trey Cochran-Gill was equally impressive in his three innings of work. He allowed just two hits and a hit batter and struck-out two. Kyle Finnegan worked a perfect ninth to complete the shutout.
Snappers stave-off defeat, win it in the 10th
With nobody on and two outs, things looked bleak for the Beloit Snappers in the bottom of the ninth inning on Tuesday night. Down 1-0, the Snappers' bats finally awoke down to their final out, as they mounted a rally to tie the game at 1. The Snappers would waste no time taking the win home in the bottom of the 10th, when Jesus Lopez connected on a walk-off single with one-out.
For most of the game, Beloit's bats were silent against the Cedar Rapids Kernels. Boomer Biegalski and Sam Clay traded zeroes through seven innings. Biegalski worked into the eighth, retiring a batter before leaving with a runner on first (via Biegalski's first walk of the night). That runner would come around to score later in the inning and it appeared Biegalski would be stuck with the tough-luck loss.
With nothing doing in the bottom of the ninth, Ryan Howell represented the Snappers final hope. He worked a walk and was replaced on the bases by Justin Higley. Higley baited Williams Ramirez into a balk and then scored the game-tying run on a Trent Gilbert single.
In the top of the 10th, Cody Kurz pitched around a first-and-third, one-out situation to keep the game at 1-1. That would prove to be important in the bottom half of the frame, when the Snappers rallied again. Trace Loehr started off the frame with a walk. Jose Chavez hit a laser to first base that was fielded for an out, but Loehr was able to advance to second. That brought up Lopez, who lined a single to left to score Loehr and send the Snappers home happy. Lopez is hitting just .229 over his last 10 games, but he has 10 RBI.