Thomas Slam Ends Barnstormers Season
It took a grand slam by Tony Thomas in the bottom of the tenth inning to end the Lancaster Barnstormers' bid to go to the championship series, even though a fly ball would have done it.
Thomas slugged the third Sugar Land homer in two innings to send the host Skeeters to a 10-6 victory in the fifth and deciding game of the Freedom Division Series.
Ultimately, the game and the trip to the finals escaped the Barnstormers twice.
With a 5-2 lead entering the bottom of the ninth, Huascar Brazoban was summoned for the final three outs. He was greeted by an Anthony Giansanti home run to cut the margin to two. Brazoban rallied to strike out Juan Silverio, but Matt Chavez tacked on another homer to pull Sugar Land within one. Albert Cordero chased Brazoban with a single.
Garrett Granitz came on and walked Thomas before Derek Norris tied the game with a single to right. Lancaster walked Denis Phipps intentionally and brought John Anderson into the game to face Luke Dykstra.
On his second pitch, Anderson coaxed a 1-2-3 double play out of the Sugar Land left fielder and sent the game to extra frames.
Lancaster again built a lead. Darian Sandford led off the inning with a single to right and raced to third on a bad pickoff throw by Jean Machi. After Tyler Bortnick struck out, Blake Gailen was walked intentionally. Ryan Casteel put Lancaster ahead, 6-5, with a long double over Giansanti's head in center to give the 'Stormers another lead.
Anderson, Lancaster's seventh pitcher, retired Alvaro Rondon to start the tenth, but Giansanti and Silverio both singled with one out. A wild pitch scored the tying run. Chavez was issued an intentional walk, and Anderson hit Javier Betancourt with a pitch to load the bases. Thomas cracked a 2-0 pitch barely over the wall in left to send Sugar Land to the Championship Series.
The Barnstormers had taken a 3-0 lead in the second with RBI doubles by Hobson and Frias. Gregor added another in the sixth inning for a 4-0 edge.
Sugar Land finally scored against Nate Reed with a single run in the seventh and tacked on another against Scott Shuman in the eighth. He used Kevin Munson and Matt Marksberry for one batter each to get out of those innings.
Stephen Perez provided an insurance run with a two-out RBI single in the top of the ninth.
NOTES: Reed had gone 37 2/3 innings without allowing a run before Giansanti's sac fly in the seventh...Casteel and Gregor each ended the series with nine hits...The Barnstormers are now 1-3 in fifth games in franchise history with each loss coming in the final inning.
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Atlantic League Stories from September 23, 2018
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