Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Baby Bombers celebrate The Fourth in style with wild win , Walk off over archrival Cyclones

STATEN ISLAND, NY - Sometimes, baseball can be a funny game. That was the case in the Baby Bombers' exciting 4-3 comeback victory in 11 innings against their Verrazano rival before an energized 6,011 at Richmond County Bank Ballpark who were treated to special Fourth of July fireworks immediately following the unpredictable game which lasted three hours and 39 minutes in spite a start an hour earlier.

The win improved second place Staten Island to 9-7, pulling them within two games of first place Brooklyn (11-5) in the McNamara Division.

"Our offense found a way to get it done," pumped up third baseman Justin Snyder said after leading the 11th off with a walk before coming around to score the tying run when Brooklyn first baseman Jason Jacobs was unable to get his glove on second baseman Damon Sublett's sharp grounder.

"To score the winning run and getting the win and seeing the fireworks is pretty awesome. That's what it's all about," as he and teammates then gathered around edge of the dugout to watch the beautiful display which seemed symbolic on such a special day.

Trailing by a run thanks to a titanic 400-plus foot blast off the bat of Jake Eigsti to left center, Staten Island rallied in their final at bat. After Snyder worked a walk off Brooklyn reliever Stephen Clyne (1-1), center fielder Matt Morris dragged a perfect sac bunt which Clyne had trouble fielding to put the first two on. Sublett then followed with a hard hit grounder which went underneath Jacobs' glove for the second error of the inning, allowing Snyder to score from second to tie it.

With runners on the corners and nobody out, slugging catcher Jose Gil who earlier accounted for the club's prior two runs with a two-run home run in the fourth couldn't drive home the winner. Instead, he flew out to short right.

Just when it looked like the Cyclones might somehow escape, they messed up a chance to get the second out. With Morris running on contact from third, left fielder Austin Krum grounded to second baseman Micah Schilling who was playing in at the edge of the grass and immediately came home. Morris was a dead duck. So he backpedaled and got himself in a rundown. But third baseman J.R. Voyles was unable to apply the tag instead dropping the ball which allowed everyone to be safe loading the bases with an out.

It got even wackier when Clyne predictably uncorked a wild pitch which allowed Morris to cross the plate with the winning run to give his ballclub an unlikely win before a raucous atmosphere as fireworks went off.

"It was exciting. It's always against top rivals like Brooklyn. So it was a pretty big win for us," reliever Phil Bartleski pointed out after failing to pickup the save when he permitted a one out opposite field double to Ender Chavez which forced extras.

"Everybody played till the last out. That's all we can ask for out of everybody. We got two more games. Take these next two or at least one going into the All Star break. These are big games right here," eluding to the big three-game set with Game 2 later tonight at Keyspan Park before they return to the Ferry terminal tomorrow.

"It was good to comeback and get that win in front of the home fans. Especially against Brooklyn and take a game back when we're trying to catch them," explained reliever Craig Heyer after tossing three innings of one-run ball in relief of starter Dellin Betances and Jason Kiley.

"It just came down to the end and we were able to squeeze it out right there. There were some weird plays but we got the win. So that's all that matters."

The night started off with Betances working in and out of trouble. Despite not having his best stuff and walking the same amount of batters (six) he fanned, the 19 year-old Brooklyn native who was drafted by the Yankees last year showed plenty of resolve in tossing 89 pitches over four and two thirds scoreless.

"I liked the way he kept his poise and sort of pushed his way through it," praised skipper Mike Gillespie about the former Grand Street High School star. "I think he is a mature kid. I personally have been very impressed with his maturity beyond his years. I haven't seen him be rattled."

Most impressive was that when the young hurler needed to dial up a big pitch to squeeze out of a bases loaded jam he created, Betances painted the outside corner on a full count to catch Jacobs looking which ended the third.

"It was pretty hard," the 6-9 righthander explained of rainy conditions which made the mound slippery. "I was glad to get that pitch cause I was kind of [upset] that I walked the bases loaded. So I was glad I got that last strike to strike [Jacobs] out."

He finished strong by striking out the last two batters reaching his pitch count before giving way to the bullpen. Given a two-run lead on Gil's blast to left for his second dinger in two days, they pitched well but couldn't hold it which setup the crazy finish.

Gillespie knew how important it was to get this first one:

"We haven't talked to our players about the fact that it is a big series but I certainly think all the coaches think it's a big series. Even though it's early, it's getting to be less early. ... To have them get out there with too big a gap is not a little thing. I certainly don't like the idea of falling further and further behind.

They've been hot and I think they're good.


Notes: Despite allowing a homer to Eigsti in the eleventh, Staten Island reliever Kyle Hollander cameback to retire the side and pickup his first win. He also came on for Bartleski in the 10th with runners in scoring position with just an out and got out of a tight situation when Will Vogl's suicide squeeze backfired. Gil quickly grabbed the ball before just getting back to the plate in time to tag out Matt Bouchard. Hollander would then get Jordan Abruzzo on a comebacker to end the threat.

"I'm sure glad it came out like it did because I think the surprising thing would be that at some point I didn't ask for a pitchout," an unsurprised Gillespie said. "Julio Mascara, our third base coach pointed out the squeeze as a possibility and I was just guessing for a count. ... They have shown in the few games that we've played that there's a lot in their bag."

Summing up the game, 31 different players were used including 17 Baby Bombers. That included three pinch hitters and nine total pitchers (Bkln- 4 S.I.- 5). ... Since a 1-4 start, the S.I. Yanks have won seven of 10.

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