Fajardo's Single Saves 'Birds in 10th
SALISBURY, MD - Daniel Fajardo hit a walkoff single in the bottom of the 10th, and after seeing a seven-run lead evaporate, the Delmarva Shorebirds still found a way to win their seventh in a row, beating the Kannapolis Intimidators 8-7 on a blustery Monday night at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium.
With the game tied 7-7, Adam Hall began the bottom of the 10th on second base, and Robert Neustrom was intentionally walked to bring up Fajardo. After fouling off one 0-2 pitch, Fajardo squared up on another and drilled a liner into left center, bringing Hall in with the winning run and setting off a Shorebirds (9-1) celebration behind first base.
Matt De La Rosa (1-0) earned the win in relief after getting the final out of the ninth and stranding two on in the 10th. Andrew Perez (0-1) took the loss for the Intimidators (4-6), giving up the unearned run in the 10th.
The Shorebirds appeared to have the game in the bag from the onset. In the bottom of the first, Neustrom doubled to the right field corner with one out, and Fajardo beat out an infield hit to put two on. Will Robertson and Jean Carlos Encarnacion each drove in a run with singles, then two batters later Doran Turchin cracked a two-run triple. Branden Becker followed with an RBI single to bring in Turchin, and Delmarva had a 5-0 after just one inning.
Delmarva got another run each in the second and fourth innings thanks to some clunky Kannapolis fielding. In both frames Adam Hall led off and reached on an error at third by Bryce Bush. In the second, a wild pitch led him to second and Fajardo singled him home. In the fourth, Neustrom singled, then after a groundout and a strikeout Encarnacion hit a grounder to short that Lenyn Sosa threw away, allowing Hall to score to make it 7-0 Shorebirds.
The run support was more than enough for Ofelky Peralta, who dominated in his first start at Perdue Stadium since 2016. Peralta got his first seven outs via strikeout, building on a streak that began in Kannpolis last Tuesday and seeing it reach 17 straight recorded outs for strikeouts.
Peralta finished with the second Quality Start of the season for Delmarva pitching, allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits in six innings, walking one and striking out a career-high 11. Over his last two starts he has fanned 21 batters in 9.2 innings.
The Intimidators got on the board against Peralta in the top of the fifth. Alex Destino managed a one-out single, then two batters later Ramon Beltre tripled to right center and scored when Nick Horvath's throw from center bounced off his shoulderblades and into the third base dugout. The "Little League homer" got Kannapolis within 7-2.
Jalen Miller struck out six batters in a row to get through a scoreless seventh and eighth, but Kannapolis made their move against Jhon Peluffo in the ninth. Lenyn Sosa led off with a single, and Evan Skoug doubled to put men on second and third. Amado Nunez drove in one with a single, then Bryce Bush hit a run-scoring groundout to make it 7-4. Destino walked, and Luis Curbelo struck out to put the Shorebirds one out away from the win. With men on second and third after a passed ball, Beltre hit a dying quail into shallow center, scoring both runners to cut it to 7-6.
On a night when the constant wind didn't play much of a factor at all, one gust cost the Shorebirds dearly with Ian Dawkins at the plate. Dawkins hit a routine popup to second, but the ball swerved late and popped out of Becker's glove. Beltre scored all the way from first, and the Intimidators had scored five in the ninth to tie it at 7-7.
Delmarva seemed primed to win it in the bottom of the ninth as Encarnacion singled to right, and Horvath and Turchin both bunted their way aboard to load the bases with nobody out. Perez buckled down, though, getting Becker to ground into a fielder's choice at the plate, incuding a popout from Seamus Curran, and striking out Hall on the eighth pitch of a full-count at-bat to send it to extras.
De La Rosa came up roses in the top of the 10th for Delmarva. With Sosa on second to begin, De La Rosa struck out Skoug before walking Nunez. Bush then fouled out to first, and Destino struck out swinging. The scoreless top of the 10th set up Fajardo's heroics in the home 10th.
Fajardo finished 3-for-6 with a run and two RBIs, including the game-winner to end it, his first walkoff hit as a Shorebird since a 14th-inning single to beat Hickory 1-0 on August 22, 2017. Encarnacion went 3-for-5 with a run, RBI, and stolen base, while Turchin finished 2-for-4 with a triple, run, and two RBIs.
The Shorebirds managed a season-high 14 hits on the night. The only man not to get at least one hit was Hall, who still managed to score three runs despite going 0-for-6.
Beltre did most of the damage from the nine-hole for the Intimidators, going 3-for-4 with a triple, two runs, and three RBIs.
The seven-game winning streak matches Delmarva's longest from the 2018 season, a seven gamer to open the season. At 9-1, the Shorebirds are a game better than their 8-2 mark through 10 games last season.
The Shorebirds try to make it eight in a row on Tuesday night against the Intimidators. Hector Guance (0-0, 1.80) is on the bump for Delmarva against Kannapolis' Jonathan Stiever (0-2, 9.00). First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. with gates opening at 6:00. Tuesday is the first Wag Your Tail Tuesday presented by Concord Pet Food & Supplies; fans are invited to bring their dogs to every Tuesday home game this season. Pregame coverage on Fox Sports 960 AM and the MiLB First Pitch App beginning at 6:50 with Will DeBoer on the call.
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