Fortenberry's Walkoff Hit Lifts Baby Bombers Over Spinners
STATEN ISLAND, NY -Seth Fortenberry's walkoff hit in the bottom of the ninth lifted the Baby Bombers to a 3-2 win over Lowell (21-23) before 3,614 at Richmond County Ball Park Saturday night. Combined with Brooklyn's 1-0 loss to Tri-City which snapped their 12-game win streak, Staten Island (27-18) moved into a first place tie in the McNamara Division.
With the game tied at two and the first two batters retired in order, it looked destined for extra innings. But Wilkins De La Rosa walked and Colin Curtis singled to put runners on the corners. With the winning run 90 feet away and the crowd urging him on, Fortenberry worked the count full against losing pitcher Yulkin German (3-1) before delivering a single in the hole to right which scored De La Rosa to touch off a celebration.
"It was two teams going at it- 2-2 tie ballgame. It came down to the wire...[German] had a great changeup and I was just lucky enough to get a good pitch and poke it through the hole," a pleased Fortenberry said a few minutes after being mobbed by his teammates on the field.
A couple of innings earlier, the Staten Island left fielder came up against German with a chance to put his team ahead with Christopher Kunda on third. But after the Lowell southpaw came in and fanned Curtis swinging, Fortenberry also went down swinging on a nasty changeup to end the threat.
"He had struck me out before that on changeups," Fortenberry pointed out. "He got to 3-2 and I figured he was going to go fastball but he ended up going changeup first pitch but I was able to foul it off and then he cameback with a fastball and I was able to poke it through the hole."
His last inning heroics made a winner out of Jonathan Hovis, who came in and tossed two scoreless frames to improve to 3-1.
The win came less than 24 hours after an ugly 9-7 loss which resulted in a team meeting.
"It was kind of back and forth last night. We gave up some runs that we probably shouldn't have but we bounced back- good to get a good win like this under your belt."
"It was a great win," shortstop Mitch Hilligoss said after finishing 2-for-4 including an RBI ground out in the third which tied the score at one.
"After last night's debacle, tonight was a good win. Fortenberry came up huge. I thought he got one earlier in the game and he missed it. But a ground ball through the hole was just as good."
The Spinners jumped in front early on thanks to a Jonathan Still sac fly in the first which scored Paul Smyth. It was the only run they managed off starter George Kontos, who went the first five allowing a run on five hits and striking out six to get the no decision.
After tying it in the third, Staten Island went ahead on back-to-back one out hits in the sixth. Hilligoss hit an opposite field triple to left and Kyle Larsen drove him in by singling to center past a drawn in infield. It could've been more but Larsen was thrown out trying to score from second on a Wilmer Pino single to left. The 6-5 235 pound first baseman knocked over catcher Luis Castillo but his attempt to jar the ball loose failed.
Lowell would tie the game up in the seventh on a Jeff Vincent sac fly, setting the stage for Fortenberry's walkoff which sent everyone home happy.
Notes: With two hits, Hilligoss raised his average to .350. ... Out of Staten Island's 12 hits, 11 came from five different players who finished with multi-hit nights. Curtis, Fortenberry, Hilligoss, Pino and Kunda combined to go 11-for-22 with two runs and two RBI's. ... Saturday also was Babe Ruth Night. Some fans dressed up and tried to resemble The Babe. The organization also honored the memory of former New York firefighter (NYFD) Jerry Barbara with a video tribute after the game. Fireworks were also on display following the proceedings. ... The three-game series wraps up later today at 4 PM. Former Red Sox slugger Jim Rice will be on hand signing autographs.