Godbold Walks It off to Clinch Series
NORMAL, Ill. - After giving up another ninth-inning home run to the Washington Wild Things (31-26), Andrew Godbold answered the call and walked it off in the ninth to win the rubber match on Thursday night to conclude a six-game homestand from the All-Star break and move the Normal CornBelters (27-27) back to .500.
"It's (series win) great, we are really happy and excited. We made some moves here in the second half and they are paying dividends for us right away. A lot of energy in the clubhouse and in the dugout, we are executing and a lot of time this series, we could have won all three or lost all three. We left a lot of guys on base and we didn't nail down leads when we should have, but we came through and at the end of the day we got two wins of out it, that's what is most important," said Manager Billy Horn.
Once again the Washington Wild Things found another ninth-inning home run off closer Anthony Herrera. However, this time the Normal CornBelters rallied to clinch the series. Justin Fletcher and Santiago Chirino started off the inning with back-to-back singles. Ch Chi finished 5-5 to move his lifetime total to 661 hits. His five hits are the second time in his career he has done that, just missing the single-game record by one. After Derrick Loveless, reached on a fielder's choice, Andrew Godbold went down 0-2 right away then came through in the clutch smoking a liner into right to walk it off.
For the first time, all series Normal took the lead first. James Davison Jr, Fletcher, and Chirino all teamed up for three consecutive base hits in a row to jump out to an early 1-0 lead. In only five games into his professional career, Davison Jr. has swiped three bags along with two doubles in 13 at bats.
"Every time you see this kid (Davison Jr.), we don't know if he is going to bunt, hit the ball to left field, is he going to run a ball down 80 feet and make a catch. He brings a very different dynamic to our lineup and our defense too. Covers a lot of ground out there, especially in center. We talked to Lovey (Loveless) who is one of the most selfless human beings in the world. He just says whatever we can do for the team if you want to put me in right put me in right, if you want me to catch, I'll catch. A very unselfish guy and you don't see that a lot in professional baseball and having him is a true blessing. We are going to give Davison an opportunity out in center field and give him a chance at the top of the lineup."
Despite giving up three runs in his final inning of work, Jacinto Garcia threw another great game. The righty who originally was the number five in the starting rotation gave up his first runs in two starts. Garcia retired the Wild Things in orders three different times and got some help from his defense when Chirino turned a doubled play to end a threat in the fourth. The righty only walked one in his 11th start on the season.
Normal erased a three-run Wild Things sixth with their own in the bottom half thanks to some Washington mistakes and a Godbold triple. Chirino came all around to score from second on a passed ball and then Godbold scored on a balk to take the lead 4-3.
In the seventh, Tyler Frohwirth got some help from his defense as Godbold linked up with Chirino to throw what would of being the tying run out at the plate. Mile Moeller then came in with runners on first and second. His first pitch that got away from Cody Erickson, but he caught the runner napping and threw him out at second. Washington eventually brought in the tying run on the next batter. However, the Belters mirrored and took back the lead from a Chirino singled that brought in Davison Jr. who doubled.
"It's great to be back to .500 ... and it is a grind. It's a long battle and we got a lot of proven and experienced guys and a lot our rookie guys are experienced. Our guys haven't been panicking or anything like that. To get a series win against a very, very good ballclub, we are really pleased with that and we got to turn the page get on a bus tomorrow and head up to Schaumburg and just worry about tomorrow night's game."
The Normal CornBelters now finally move back to .500 for the first since the beginning of the year and are now in a three-way tie with Evansville and Florence for second in the West. Tonight's' walk-off was the second one this homestand as Loveless recorded the first against Evansville on Sunday. The Belters will hit the road for six games starting with Schaumburg tomorrow and Florence before returning home on July 27th to open a series against the Gateway Grizzlies.
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