Clutch Eighth Inning Carries Fightins
(TRENTON, NJ) - Connor Seabold stayed the course in Sunday night's swing game at ARM & HAMMER Park in the second-to-last game of the regular season. The righthander outlasted Thunder starter Shawn Semple, but two runs in the second inning for the home team were the difference early on. The Fightin Phils failed to capitalize with runners in scoring position for awhile, but eventually scored a pair in the eighth inning. Luke Williams' two-out double was the game-winner in a two-RBI performance as the Fightins (80-58, 41-30) get ready for Monday afternoon's finale.
Mickey Moniak reached with one out in the top of the first when Ben Ruta dropped a shallow popup into left field. Alec Bohm then walked on four pitches, starting a familiar theme throughout the course of the ballgame. Semple responded with a strikeout and a groundout, stranding two runners in the top of the first.
Coming off an eight-pitch first inning, Seabold went back for the second and surrendered some soft contact around a pair of strikeouts. Number eight batter Brian Navaretto got a hold of a 1-0 pitch and produced an opposite field RBI single to right, and Max Burt picked up the fourth single of the inning to score Rashad Crawford for a 2-0 Thunder lead.
At that point, Seabold retired nine in a row, and watched from the third base dugout as the offense squandered several opportunities against Semple. Bohm singled in his second at-bat in the third, and a walk to Josh Stephen loaded them up with one out after Moniak had opened the inning with a base on balls. Semple got Cornelius Randolph on an infield fly, then ended the threat with a strikeout of Nick Maton.
Reading finally scored for the first time since the sixth inning on Friday night thanks to a one-out walk to Jack Conley and Williams' third triple and 50th run batted in during the top of the fourth. Semple got the last two outs without allowing Williams to advance, then worked around a two-out single by Randolph in the fifth. In the sixth, Conley nabbed his second hit with a double when he was greenlit on a 3-0 pitch with one out. Semple departed, and Braden Bristo started strong with a pair of strikeouts before a perfect seventh inning.
Seabold surrendered a two-out single to Ruta for his sixth and final hit with two outs in the fifth. He later walked Hoy Jun Park to start the sixth and unloaded a wild pitch which pushed the Thunder second baseman into scoring position. Three outs on the infield kept Park at third base, and also kept Seabold's (3-1) pitch count low enough to allow him to return for the seventh inning for the second straight start. He tacked on two more strikeouts in a perfect frame, finishing with five while lowering his earned run average to 2.25.
The Fightin Phils comeback started when Randolph barreled a leadoff triple off Bristo on an 0-2 pitch to start the bottom of the eight. Maton soon tied the score with a sacrifice fly to deep right center, and a short time later, Conley added his third hit with an opposite field single into right. The catcher swiped second for his first stolen base, and on a 1-1 pitch, Williams smoked his 30th double to left for his second RBI and a 3-2 lead.
In relief, Jeff Singer dodged a walk to Park and a single by Eastern League Most Valuable Player Chris Gittens in the bottom of the eight. The lefthander got designated hitter Kellin Deglan to pop out to second for the final out, keeping the Fightin Phils in front for closer Addison Russ. The ninth inning started with a walk to Kyle Holder, but Russ induced a 3-6 double play off the bat of Crawford which was turned perfectly by Darick Hall and Williams. Two pitches later, Navaretto flied out to center field to end the ballgame, giving Russ his second save in three days and 22nd of the season.
America's Classic Ballpark is proud to be a part of Pennsylvania's Americana Region and was voted the #1 stadium in all of Double-A by MiLB's Ben Hill. Follow the Fightins on Twitter at @ReadingFightins and like them on Facebook via www.facebook.com/fightins. Purchase tickets TODAY, call or TEXT 610-370-BALL, and download the Fightins game and promotional schedule at fightins.com/calendar.
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