Tides Give Big Crowd Walk-Off Win in 10
Anthony Santander plated Mike Yastrzemski with a walk-off single in the 10th inning to give Norfolk a 4-3 win in front of a season-high crowd of 12,131 fans Saturday night at Harbor Park.
With the score knotted at 3-3 in the 10th inning, Yastrzemski opened the inning as the Pace of Play runner on second base. Breyvic Valera dropped down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Yastrzemski to third, and Durham countered by intentionally walking Joey Rickard. Santander followed by lacing a single into right center field off of Ian Gibaut (4-3), easily plating Yastrzemski and giving Norfolk its 13th walk-off win of the season.
The Tides trailed the contest 3-0 early on, but Yastrzemski knotted the score at 3-3 in the fifth inning with a three-run blast off of Durham starter Andrew Moore. Yastrzemki has now hit safely in nine of his last 11 games, over which he's batted .286 with four home runs, 13 RBI and nine runs scored.
Making a start on short rest, Norfolk starter Matt Wotherspoon allowed three runs - all on solo homers - over five solid innings of work. The University of Pittsburgh product struck out five without issuing a walk, scattering seven hits while throwing 59 of his 88 pitches for strikes. The Bulls jumped out to an early lead with back-to-back home runs by Joe McCarthy and Austin Meadows in the first inning, then extended their advantage to 3-0 when Nick Ciuffo connected on a solo homer with one out in the fourth frame.
Tim Melville (9-6) earned the victory with a scoreless inning of relief, capping a strong night from Norfolk's bullpen. Melville, Luis Gonzalez and Evan Phillips combined to strike out seven without walking a batter over 5.0 innings of relief.
The win pulled Norfolk (68-63) within 4.5 games of the Bulls (72-58) in the IL South division, with the two clubs still set to meet six times over the final nine games of the regular season. The victory also moved the Tides to just 1.0 game back of Indianapolis (69-62) and Columbus (69-62) in the IL Wild Card standings after both clubs lost Saturday night. Norfolk is also in a virtual tie in the Wild Card standings with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (67-62), which lost two games to the schedule and will only play 138 of 140 scheduled games. Norfolk does not hold the tiebreaker over any of those three contending clubs, meaning the Tides would have to capture the Wild Card outright in order to advance to the postseason.
The two clubs will continue their four-game series on Sunday evening at Harbor Park, with first pitch slated for 4:05. John Means (6-4, 3.35) is set to make the start for Norfolk and will be opposed by left-hander Holby Milner (1-0, 3.00). Sunday is Fan Appreciation Night at Harbor Park, with numerous fans winning prices throughout the game, presented by Norfolk International Airport.
Notes: Earlier Saturday, the Orioles recalled RHP Jimmy Yacabonis from Norfolk to serve as The 26th Man in Baltimore's doubleheader. Yacabonis was returned to Norfolk after Baltimore's twinbill...The Tides wore special MargaritaVille jerseys throughout the game...Virginia Governor Ralph Northam was on hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitch...Joey Rickard singled and was intentionally walked twice, and he's now reached base safely in 36 of the 38 games in which he's had a plate appearance with Norfolk this season.
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