Sandoval Spoils Strategy in Marathon
It may have been the ultimate tribute to his teammate and friend, Andretty Cordero, but Ariel Sandoval should have felt slighted and responded accordingly.
The High Point Rockers opted to walk Cordero intentionally with runners at first and second in the top of the 12th inning to face Sandoval, and the Lancaster right fielder responded with a two-run single into left, and the Barnstormers went on to defeat the Rockers, 6-2, in the opening game of the best-of-five Championship Series.
Cam Cotter (0-1) retired the first two batters in the 10th inning before hitting Shawon Dunston, Jr. with a pitch. Dunston stole second, and Melvin Mercedes drew a walk. That is when Jamie Keefe opted to walk Cordero, who drove in 118 runs during the regular season and nine in the division series. Cotter made Keefe look like a genius, getting ahead, 0-2, before Sandoval delivered the tiebreaking hit through the left side.
Anderson Feliz followed with a walk to reload the bases. Jacob Barfield beat out an infield single to short for a 4-1 lead, and Chris Proctor capped the eruption with a two-run double to left center, stretching the advantage to 6-1.
Quincy Latimore led off the bottom of the 12th with a single up the middle. Zander Wiel lined a base hit off Sandoval’s glove in right as he retreated on the play, but Tyler Ladendorf grounded into a double play to quell the threat. West Tunnell struck out Jay Gonzalez to end the night.
Dunston homered to open the game against Mickey Jannis, but the Barnstormers could produce nothing else for the remainder of regulation and through the first two extra innings, amassing only five other hits. The ‘Stormers left the bases loaded in the second, and got runners as far as third base three times in the late innings without scoring.
The Rockers were able to tie the game against Brooks Hall in the bottom of the fifth. Ladendorf picked up a one-out walk and went to third as Michael Martinez laced a single to left center. Giovanny Alfonzo plated the run with a sacrifice fly to left.
Hall allowed three hits over six innings. He walked one and struck out two. Gray Fenter pitched a perfect seventh; Brandyn Sittinger covered two hitless innings, and Cam Booser (1-0) allowed only a single in his two frames to record the win.
The Barnstormers will send Nile Ball (11-5, 0-1) to the mound on Wednesday evening to take on right-hander Mitch Atkins (3-0, 0-1) in the second game of the series. Fans may tune into the Barnstormers YouTube Channel, starting at 6:30.
NOTES: Lancaster is 2-0 in extra inning games this post-season…Barfield drove in a run for the fifth straight game but lost his homer streak at four when Jay Gonzalez caught his drive at the right field wall in the eighth…Sandoval has six playoff RBI on only five hits…Lancaster pitchers struck out 12 and have now fanned 63 in 57 post-season innings…The Barnstormers are 4-0 in finals openers in franchise history…Fenter has struck out seven of the last nine batters he has faced.