Drive Squeak by 'Birds in Tenth
GREENVILLE, SC - Cole Brannen's walkoff single in the bottom of the 10th lifted the Greenville Drive to a 4-3 win over the Delmarva Shorebirds on Sunday afternoon at Fluor Field at the West End.
With the game tied 3-3, Jonathan Ortega started the 10th on second base, and Grant Williams bunted him over to first. Brannen came up next and dropped a 3-2 pitch into shallow right for a base hit, bringing Ortega around and setting off the celebration for the home side.
Yorvin Pantoja (4-2) picked up the win for the Drive (25-31) by pitching a scoreless 10th, stranding the bases loaded in the process. Matthew Hammonds (1-2) was saddled the loss for the Shorebirds (42-13), giving up the unearned run in the 10th.
In another back-and-forth game that defined the series, the Shorebirds went in front early. Nick Horvath led off the second with a single and took second on an error in left. Ben Breazeale followed with a walk, then two batters later Ryne Ogren took a pitch off the elbow to load the bases. Alexis Torres hit a chopper to short and beat it out for an RBI fielder's choice, scoring Horvath to get Delmarva on the board at 1-0.
That run was enough for Hector Guance early in his start. Guance faced the minimum over his first four innings, retiring 10 in a row at one point, before the Drive finally solved him in the fifth. Devlin Granberg doubled to left on the inning's first pitch, then Alan Marrero notched a single on the next offering. On the very next pitch, Brandon Hewlett clubbed a double to bring in Granberg with the tying run and put men on second and third with no out. Ortega singled hom Marerro two batters later, then Williams hit into an RBI groundout to plate Hewlett and put Greenville in front 3-1.
Guance settled in from there and managed his first career Quality Start, going a career-long six innings of three-run, six-hit ball with one walk and a career-best eight strikeouts.
Greenville starter Chase Shugart limited Delmarva to one run over his five innings, giving up six singles and a walk with one strikeout.
Delmarva quickly chipped one off Drive reliever Kevin Biondic in the sixth. Jean Carlos Encarnacion slashed a two-out single, and Ogren blooped a base hit into right to allow Encarnacion to take third. Biondic then threw wild to Gorres, allowing Encarnacion to scamper home to make it 3-2 Greenville.
For the second straight game, Seamus Curran struck a big blow late, clubbing a solo home run to lead off the eighth and tie the game at 3-3.
Both teams had prime chances to go in front in the ninth. Doran Turchin doubled at the base of the left center wall with two out in the Shorebird ninth but couldn't score. In the bottom of the ninth, Granberg laced a leadoff triple into the right field corner, but Delmarva's Jhon Peluffo got a popout, strikeout, and after an intentional walk, the inning-ending groundout from Ortega, forcing extras.
The triple was the only hit Peluffo gave up in three strong innings of scoreless relief.
In the top of the 10th, pinch-runner Robbie Thorburn started at second base, and Horvath and Encarnacion drew walks to load the bases with two out. Pantoja buckled down, though, and forced Ogren to line out to right to retire the side and set up Brannen's heroics in the home 10th.
Turchin notched his fourth straight multi-hit game for the Shorebirds, going 3-for-5 with a double; he finished the series with nine hits in four games. Encarnacion went 2-for-4 with a run, while Ogren had two hits and an HBP. Curran finished 2-for-5 with his team-leading 10th home run of the year.
Granberg went 2-for-3 with a double, triple, and run to lead the Drive at the plate. Marrero finished 2-for-4 with a double and a run.
Delmarva's magic number to win the SAL Northern Division remains at 10; second-place Greensboro won 4-3 against Lakewood on Sunday afternoon.
The Shorebirds now turn the page and head to Kannapolis for their third road series of the half against the Intimidators. Ryan Wilson (0-1, 8.10) is slated to start for Delmarva against Kannapolis' Jason Bilous (2-2, 2.54). First pitch 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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