Khayyan Norfork sends the Senators home 5-4 victors on walk-off single

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The music seemed to be played a little louder in the Senators’ clubhouse after the team overcame a one-run deficit in their last at-bats for a 5-4 walk-off win over the Binghamton Rumble Ponies. Maybe the music was played at the level it’s always at win or lose, but it sure seemed different on this Saturday night.

Perhaps it was just the laughs and upbeat attitudes that permeated through each and every player as they reveled in the victory reliving the last inning. Pitcher Jaron Long was busy holding court in the middle of the room as his broadcaster alter ego Greg “Money” Michaels took over the post-game wrap up duties. “A walk-off win,” overheard in the clubhouse. “We should do that more often.”

Or maybe it was just the sense of relief to finally win a game during a rough stretch in their schedule. “After losing last night, it’s been a tough two weeks,” manager Matt LeCroy said. “To win one like this, hopefully it gets us going a little bit.”

The Senators have found themselves on the losing end of games like this far too often this season. After battling for three hours, it was a much needed win for their collective psyche and to validate the hard work they’ve been putting in before the games.

Whether the music really was louder than usual or not wasn’t important. But on this Saturday night in early June with the season hanging on the precipice, it sure felt like it was and for good cause.

*****

Facing Binghamton reliever Cory Burns in his second inning of work, Spencer Kieboom proved to be a table-setter for the rally as he led off the ninth inning with a walk. Osvaldo Abreu laid down a sacrifice bunt that advanced Kieboom, the tying run, into scoring position. Manager Matt LeCroy swapped out the slow footed Kieboom for the speedy Stephen Perez as a pinch runner.

Yadiel Hernandez topped a ball in front of the plate that Burns fielded, but slipped on the grass as he tried to plant his foot. From his posterior, the reliever made the ill-advised decision to still try to throw out Hernandez at first. Instead the ball ended up all the way down in the right field foul territory allowing Perez to easily score the tying run and Hernandez to race all the way to third base on the throwing error.

“Yadi rang hard all the way down to first,” LeCroy said. “That’s the reason he was able to get all the way to third.”

That brought up Khayyan Norfork with the winning run 90 feet away. The second baseman wasted little time in building up the drama as he drilled Burns’ first offering past the third baseman down the line to plate the winning run.

*****

Down 3-0 in the fourth inning, Alec Keller led off the inning by flying out to Binghamton left fielder Kevin Taylor. That marked nine straight batters set down by Rumble Ponies’ starter P.J. Conlon who was on cruise control early keeping the Senators’ batters off balance. The next batter, Mario Lisson, looked like more of the same as the slugger watched the first two pitches go by for called strikes.he

But Lisson fouled off every Conlon offering that was near the plate and spit on the ones outside the strike zone until he found himself in a 3-2 full count. Two more fouls kept the Harrisburg third baseman alive until Conlon, on the 11th pitch of the at-bat, made a mistake with a change-up elevated in the zone that Lisson didn’t miss as he deposited it over the left-center field wall for his fifth home run of the season.

The at-bat and result seemed to throw Conlon off his game despite the still 3-1 advantage for Binghamton. Jose Marmolejos followed with a single and then Neftali Soto stroked another laser beam home run over the boardwalk and off the pavilion roof to even the score.

*****

Matthew Crownover allowed three runs on eight hits and two walks in five innings…the Rumble Ponies were shut down in three separate innings after loading the bases as Crownover got a fly out for the final out in a frame, Phillips Valdez induced an inning-ending double play, and Andrew Robinson struck out the only batter he faced in the top of the ninth to pick up his first victory of the season…Kieboom reached base safely three times with a single and two walks.

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