Adrian Sanchez delivers in key situation as Senators split doubleheader

 

Photo courtesy Samuel Getty / Harrisburg Senators

Baseball is often described as a game of failure. After all, a .300 hitter is going to fail seven out of ten times. It is often how you deal with that adversity as a player that defines your makeup and ultimate success.

Short memories are for the better. Forgetting what you did in the previous game, at-bat, or even pitch and not letting it affect you going forward is a tough trick to pull off but one that sometimes is very necessary to be successful.

Nowhere was this more evident than Adrian Sanchez’s key at-bat in the fourth inning of Saturday’s first game of the doubleheader. With runners on second and third and the Senators holding a 1-0 lead, Sanchez came to the plate looking to deliver a blow that would increase the lead.

“His Achilles’ heel has been being too aggressive, chasing out of the zone with runners in scoring position,” manager Matt LeCroy said. “He starts to swing just to swing. He’s too inconsistent with swinging at strikes in that situation.”

Altoona starter Brandon Waddell quickly put Sanchez in a 0-2 count and seemingly had him where he wanted. But Sanchez was able to fight off two pitches with a couple of ugly, defensive swings to keep himself alive in the at-bat.

Waddell’s next pitch was a mistake and Sanchez didn’t miss it.

The 26-year-old infielder turned on the elevated pitch and drove it into Ollie’s Cheap Seats in left field to put the Senators up 4-0 on their way to the season’s first victory, 6-4, over the Curve.

“They threw him a ball that he could get. That’s what he can do,” LeCroy said. “I know it felt good for him to get that one. That was a big one for us.”

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After going 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position on Friday night, the Senators changed their fortunes in the doubleheader opener. Not only were they 4-of-9, but five of their six runs scored with two outs. Sanchez’s homer and their fifth inning rally to plate two additional runs all occurred with two outs.

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Harrisburg’s game two starter Mark Blackmar probably wants to forget about how that one began. Altoona’s Pablo Reyes deposited the second pitch of the game over the left field wall and it went downhill from there.

It took the Curve only five batters to hit for the cycle as they plated three runs. It could have been even worse but Kevin Kramer ran into an out on the basepaths and gave the Senators some life on a 9-3-6-5-4 double play.

But with only two relievers really available out of the pen, Blackmar was going to “wear it” for a couple of innings regardless of the outcome. But the veteran right-hander settled down and allowed only one more hit over the next three innings as he kept the Senators within striking distance.

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Playing a doubleheader on only the second day of the season allowed LeCroy to get his bench players some additional playing time. Utility player Khayyan Norfork started in left field and gunned down a Curve runner with a laser throw to home in game one and Stephen Perez and Spencer Kieboom got the call in the nightcap.

Everyone in the bullpen has already pitched in one of the three games as well. The remaining players without an appearance are the remaining starting pitchers: Austen Williams, Greg Ross, and John Simms.

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