Stunned in the Ninth; Tourists Fall to BlueClaws
ASHEVILLE - You can look at a lot of things entering Thursday night that may matter against the Asheville Tourists. They were 10-21 against teams from the northern division. They have blown ten saves on the season. They had to use a lot of relievers in yesterdays win. Excuses aside, this 4-3 loss to Lakewood hurt.
Should it matter that the BlueClaws have the worst record in the South Atlantic League? Or that they were 0-31 when trailing after eight innings? The Tourists left a golden scoring opportunity on the board in the fifth inning with runners at the corners and no outs - but would it really matter? The answer was yes to that one.
Asheville built a 3-0 lead with a few timely two-out RBI singles and a solo Home Run by Will Golsan. The BlueClaws were in striking distance but it never quite felt like the Tourists were being threatened; even when the visitors scored once on a passed ball in the seventh.
The Tourists took a 3-1 lead into the top of the ninth and brought in Alexander Martinez to close this one out. Their All-Star closer. Martinez promptly jumped ahead of the leadoff hitter 0-2, then promptly left a curveball up that was ripped for a leadoff double. Next pitch, a wild pitch. So what. The Tourists still led by two.
Martinez struck out the next batter and recorded a sacrifice fly for the second out. Asheville's lead was down to one but the bases were empty and Lakewood had their nine-hole hitter at the plate. Advantage Martinez. Not so fast. It took 11 pitches before Yerwin Trejo singled into right field. The next pitch, a triple off the centerfield wall. Tie game.
Alright, the lead is gone but Asheville can still win in the bottom of the ninth. Martinez, clearly furious about the blown save, jumped ahead of the next hitter 0-2. Next pitch, base hit into right field. Asheville trails for the first time all game. The jubilation in the visitors' dugout made the Thirsty Thursday patrons sicker than some already were.
Asheville put a runner aboard in the bottom of the ninth but a groundout ended the game and answered the real question - the only thing that matters on this night is finishing. Lakewood did just that.
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South Atlantic League Stories from June 13, 2019
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