A Little Bit of Magic Left in 5-4 Walk-Off Win
Altoona’s Extra-Inning Victory Leaves Playoffs Out of Reach
In a game rendered meaningless to the playoff picture by the outcome 220 miles south in Richmond, the Harrisburg Senators had one last piece of magic left in them as they scored three runs for a 5-4 walk-off win over the Hartford Yard Goats in front of 4,369 fans at FNB Field. Harrisburg (76-66) became the first Eastern League team since 2002 to miss the playoffs with at least 76 wins.
In the ninth inning, the Senators loaded the bases off Hartford closer Jerry Vasto as Nick Rickles, Adrian Sanchez, and Khayyan Norfork each singled. Pinch-hitter Isaac Ballou evened the score at 4-4 with a single to right that scored Rickles and Sanchez. Two more singles, the last one by Jose Marmolejos, proved to be the difference as Ballou coasted home on the first baseman’s line drive.
“For them to come back and do what they did in the ninth is just a testament to the kids. They’re just a bunch of grinders, ” manager Matt LeCroy said. “They bought into what we were trying to do and I can’t tell you how proud I am of them and the coaches that worked with them. That made it fun. Even though we came up short, you can’t deny what we accomplished.”
The Yard Goats got to Harrisburg starter J.D. Martin in the first inning as they used a couple of flares and stolen bases to put up an early two-spot. But Martin, called up earlier in the day from Potomac, settled down and knuckled his way through an efficient eight innings while allowing four runs on seven hits (all singles) and two walks.
Harrisburg chipped away at the lead, scoring single runs in the fifth and seventh frames, but were unable to draw closer until the final inning that decided the game.
Rafael Bautista led the offense going 4-for-5 with two runs batted in, while Marmolejos and Sanchez chipped in with three hits apiece in the wining effort.
Greg Ross picked up the win, his fifth of the season, with a scoreless inning of relief.
“For the young kids that will be back next year, I think that experience the last couple of months of the season will help them to come in and be more of a leader,” LeCroy said. “At the end of the year, you look at the stats and they’re good. I think that’s because they bought into playing as a team instead of as an individual. Look at Bautista finishing at .282. I wasn’t expecting that.”
The Senators kick off the 2017 campaign on Opening Night, Thursday April 6th at 7:00 p.m. against the Altoona Curve at FNB Field. Season ticket packages can be purchased in person at the Senators’ box office or online at senatorsbaseball.com.