Sunday, July 01, 2007

Baby Bombers rally past Renegades

STATEN ISLAND, NY- Sometimes, a comeback win can build character. For Mike Gillespie's ballclub, maybe this is the start of something big.

"I think so," the skipper said. "We have played better. We have these new players which has helped. I think we have just about everybody we're going to have. I understand that the Yankees have signed the Pope guy. The pitcher taken in the third round. ... These guys that have come have made a difference."

Trailing 4-0, the Baby Bombers scored seven straight in the fifth and sixth to rally past the Renegades 7-5 before an energized 4,307 at Richmond County Bank Ballpark Sunday. It was their second win in a row and sixth in their last eight to push them over .500 (7-6), remaining just two behind first place Brooklyn who also won.

"Baseball's a funny game. You never know what's going to happen. A hit here. A hit there. A little momentum is all we needed," explained DH Isaiah Howes after coming around to score one of his team's runs. "In this organization, we don't accept losing. We're out there to win. It's fun when you win. That's what we try to do."

It didn't start well. Starter Angel Reyes didn't make it through two innings to put Staten Island in an early 3-0 hole. Hudson Valley struck for two in the first on back-to-back one out hits from Cody Cipriano (double) and Stephen Vogt. The southpaw got into more trouble in the second. After getting the first out, he allowed three consecutive hits including a Maiko Loyola run-scoring single which made it a three-run deficit.

After walking his third batter in one and a third to load the bases, he was pulled in favor of reliever Phillip Bartleski. The righty was able to limit the damage by getting Vogt to bounce into a 4-6-3 double play.

"I knew I had to throw strikes and I got a great defense behind me," the cool middle reliever pointed out after tossing two and two thirds scoreless to keep his team afloat. "I just had to hit some spots and let the defense do the work."

Before the comeback got started in the home fifth, reliever Ryan Zink allowed a Henry Wrigley RBI double which made it four zip. But Zink later settled down to toss five solid innings allowing two runs (1 ER) while whiffing four to improve to 2-0.

"We got some good arms on the staff and really, pitching can carry a ballclub and today, from the fifth inning on, they were lights out," noted Howes. "We got the momentum in the fourth or fifth inning and we built on that throughout the game. And our pitching shut them down."

After failing to capitalize early on against knuckleballer Diego Echeverria (0-3) with even one inning ending on a bizarre 1-5-2-6-6-2 twin killing, the Bombers finally got it going by pushing across three in the fifth. Left fielder D.J. Hollingsworth was hit by a pitch and came around to score when catcher James LaSala's single to right was booted by Epifanio De Leon allowing the speedy runner to score all the way from first.

The big blow came off the bat of second baseman Damon Sublett, who drilled his second home run of the week for a two-run blast to right with two outs which sliced the deficit to one.

"I was just looking for a ball up. My other at bats, [Echeverria] threw me a couple of pitches that were up and out and I was just looking for one in and he gave me one," Sublett pointed out.

The game seemed to turnaround after that.

"We definitely started having better at bats after that. Early in the game, we kind of were up there swinging at first pitches. Not having good at bats. But after that, we locked in and did some things."

After Zink got the Renegades in order, the Bombers nearly batted around for four more in the sixth. They loaded the bases with one out before Claudio Rodriguez replaced Echeverria. In a recent home win, Sublett tagged him with a long dinger. This time, a walk to pinch hitter Austin Krum knotted it before center fielder Taylor Holliday delivered a tiebreaking two-run single to center for S.I.'s first lead. Shortstop Luis Nunez followed with a sac fly which scored Krum to put them ahead 7-4.

"In the beginning, we'd get down and kind of give in. But we had a pretty good game. Some good at bats. If our pitching's on, I don't think we're beatable," third baseman Justin Snyder said after being on base twice and scoring a run. "It seems like everyone's getting knocks."

It was enough to hold up. After giving one run back on an eighth inning Greg Sexton single, Zink got the final three outs on a 6-6-4 DP and a groundout to Nunez.

Notes: Staten Island used all three backstops with LaSala finishing 1-for-2 before Frank Lonigro replaced him after Krum pinch hit. Jose Gil then came on in the final inning to catch Zink. ... Baby Bombers travel to Hudson Valley for Game 2 of the series before concluding it tomorrow night back at St. George.


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