Barnstormers Walk Off for Second Straight Game
For the second consecutive night, the Barnstormers were able to dump the ice bucket on a walkoff win.
On Wednesday, Ariel Sandoval got drenched. On Thursday, it was Melvin Mercedes.
The Lancaster second baseman looped a base hit into left center field to score pinch runner Jake Hoover with the decisive tally as the Barnstormers complete a three-game sweep of the Long Island Ducks, 4-3.
That victory, combined with a Southern Maryland loss at York, pushed the Barnstormers’ North Division lead to 4 ½ games with a 15-game Lancaster road trip looming.
Anthony Peroni led off the ninth against left-hander Jose Jose (3-1) and lined a single into left, his third straight hit. Hoover took over at first base and raced ahead to second when Carlos Castro’s pickoff attempt was misplayed by Jose Sermo. Trace Loehr advanced Hoover with a sacrifice bunt, bringing up Mercedes. With the infield playing at the edge of the grass, Mercedes was able to punch a 2-1 pitch in front of center fielder Anfernee Seymour for the game winner.
Lancaster had the opportunity to win as the bullpen squirmed out of three straight Long Island threats. In the seventh, Dominic DiSabatino walked the first two batters. Phil Caulfield bunted into a force out at third, and Seymour was picked off second by Colton Shaver. L.J. Mazzilli lined to left to close the inning.
Josh Graham allowed singles to Alejandro de Aza and Jose Sermo in the eighth, putting runners at first and third with one out. He coaxed a 5-4-3 double play out of Castro, the league’s #3 hitter.
Then, in the top of the ninth, West Tunnell walked Dustin Woodcock and hit Vladimir Frias with a pitch. Woodcock was picked off second for the first out. Seymour fanned. Frias kept the inning going by stealing second, and Tunnell walked Caulfield before striking out Mazzilli to end the threat.
Deibinson Romero doubled and scored on groundouts in the top of the second for a 1-0 lead. Lancaster answered as starter Akeel Morris walked Loehr with the bases loaded.
Long Island again went ahead against Brooks Hall in the top of the third. Seymour tripled to right center with one out and scored on a single to center by Caulfield. Mazzilli walked, and de Aza singled to right to load the bases. Romero produced the second run of the inning with a fly ball to right. First baseman Andretty Cordero cut the throw toward the plate and doubled off de Aza trying to go to second.
Shaver singled home Cordero, who had doubled, to get a run back in the third, and Peroni tied the game with a two-out RBI single in the sixth that plated Sandoval.
The Barnstormers open a three-game series at Staten Island Friday at 7:00. Oscar De La Cruz (7-2) will make the start for Lancaster. Fans may tune into the team’s YouTube channel, starting at 6:55.
NOTES: The Barnstormers clinched all tiebreakers with Long Island with the win, their fifth straight against the Ducks…Peroni went 3-for-3 and is now 23-for-50 in a 13-game hitting streak…Sandoval stole three bases in a game for the second time and now has 14 in 27 games as a Barnstormer…He has hit safely in 23 of those games…Cordero’s double was his 155th hit of the season…The two teams combined to have seven runners thrown out on the bases…Lancaster and Kentucky (Wild Health) are tied for the top wild card spot with Lancaster holding that tiebreaker.