'Birds Win Ninth Straight on Fregia Walkoff
SALISBURY, MD - Andrew Fregia hit a walkoff single with two out in the bottom of the 11th to punctuate a sensational homestand for the Delmarva Shorebirds, who beat the Kannapolis Intimidators 2-1 on Wednesday afternoon at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium to win their ninth straight game.
With the game tied at 1-1, Doran Turchin began the 11th at second base, and Branden Becker moved him up to third with a sac bunt. After a strikeout, Fregia came to the plate trying to break up an 0-for-4 day. On the first pitch from Bennett Sousa, Fregia squared up and lined it into center field, scoring Turchin and setting of a wild celebration for the 4,814 fans, young and old, who were witness to the Shorebirds' (11-1) third walkoff win on a perfect seven-game homestand.
The win extends Delmarva's longest winning streak since the team won nine in a row from August 25 through September 2, 2016. All nine games have been decided by three runs or fewer, including four by one run. Through 12 games this season, the Shorebirds have seen five go to extra innings and seven decided in the winning team's final at-bat, winning six of those.
The Shorebirds have now opened 7-0 at home for the second straight season after pulling off the same feat last April against Asheville and Hickory. At 11-1, Delmarva is home to the best record in all of Minor League Baseball.
Tyler Joyner (4-0) earned his fourth win in as many appearances for the Shorebirds, tossing a scoreless 11th. Sousa (0-2) took the loss for the Intimidators (4-8), giving up the winning run in the last inning.
Starting pitching grabbed the headlines in the first six innings. Delmarva's Blaine Knight turned in his second straight scoreless five-inning start. The Orioles' No. 10 prospect allowed a leadoff single in the first for his only hit, walked one, and struck out nine in a no-decision.
Kannapolis' Taylor Varnell was just as good through a six-inning quality start, allowing an unearned run on four hits in six innings, walking two and striking out nine himself.
The Shorebirds finally got on the board against Varnell thanks to some bad glove work in the sixth. Adam Hall led off with a single, and Daniel Fajardo hit a tailor-made grounder to third that Bryce Bush airmailed into right, allowing Hall to take third. Will Robertson then muscled a single through the left side to score Hall and make it 1-0 Delmarva.
After loading the bases but coming up empty in the seventh, the Intimidators finally got back into it in the top of the ninth. Alex Destino led off with a single against Shorebirds closer Jhon Peluffo, and Luis Curbelo grounded out to second to advance the runner. Michael Hickman then served a liner into left for a single, scoring pinch-runner Lenyn Sosa to tie the game at 1-1. Kannapolis got two more runners on on two hit-batsmen, but Peluffo got Evan Skoug to ground out to first with the bases loaded to keep the visitors from taking the lead.
Neither side could score in the 10th inning. In the top of the 11th, Logan Sowers started on second base and took third on a wild pitch from Joyner, putting the go-ahead run at third base with nobody out. Joyner buckled down, though, striking out Curbelo and getting Hickman to ground out to a drawn-in second baseman. Ian Dawkins then laced one deep into left center, but center fielder Nick Horvath ran it down to make an over-the-shoulder catch, preserving the tie and setting up Fregia's heroics in the home 11th.
Becker finished 2-for-4 with a double and the 11th-inning sacrifice for the Shorebirds. Hall went 2-for-4 with a run, and Robertson picked up his seventh RBI in the last four games.
The Intimidators managed just four hits with Ramon Beltre's double the only extra-base knock of the afternoon.
Delmarva's nine-game winning streak is its longest since an 11-game ride from April 21 through May 2, 2011. That Shorebird team featured future MLB All-Stars Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop, plus nine other future major-leaguers. Current Shorebird manager Kyle Moore was a bullpen catcher on that team.
The Shorebirds go for 10 in a row in the opener of a three-game series at the Greensboro Grasshoppers on Thursday night. Reigning SAL Pitcher of the Week Grayson Rodriguez (2-0, 0.00) is on the bump for Delmarva against Greensboro's Brad Case (1-0, 0.77). First pitch from First National Bank Field is set for 7:00 p.m., and pregame coverage on Fox Sports 960 AM and the MiLB First Pitch App begins at 6:45 with Will DeBoer on the call.
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