Walkoff Homer Stuns 'Birds in Lakewood
SALISBURY, MD - Ben Pelletier clubbed a walkoff two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to power the Lakewood BlueClaws to a stunning 3-2 win over the Delmarva Shorebirds on Thursday night at FirstEnergy Park.
Down to his team's final strike, Luis Garcia fouled off one two-strike pitch and worked a full count walk to give the BlueClaws (23-28, 52-69) a glimmer of hope. Then on the first pitch he saw from the Shorebirds' (33-19, 81-40) Felix Bautista, Pelletier crushed a high drive to the picnic grass in left for his 10th and biggest home run of the season, setting off a wild celebration in front of almost 8,000 New Jerseyans.
Albertus Barber (3-0) pitched a scoreless ninth to pick up the relief win for the BlueClaws. Bautista (1-2) suffered his fourth blown save in seven chances in a loss.
In a low-scoring affair, Lakewood drew first blood in the third. Juan Aparicio singled with one out, then Yerwin Trejo laid down a bunt base hit to put two men aboard. Jonathan Guzman followed with a sharp grounder to short for an infield single. Delmarva shortstop Adam Hall hustled to try and force Aparicio at third, but his throw sailed wide of the bag and allowed Aparicio to scamper home to put the BlueClaws up 1-0.
Delmarva countered with a pair in the top of the sixth. Alexis Torres led off with a double off the left center wall, then two batters later Johnny Rizer attacked a 3-0 pitch and chipped it down the right field line for his own double, bringing Torres home with the tying run. Adam Hall came up next and lined an RBI single into center, putting the Shorebirds on top 2-1.
Drew Rom endured a rough no-decision thanks to Pelletier's heroics. The Orioles' No. 19 prospect allowed just an unearned run on three hits in five innings, walking none and striking out four. Matthew Hammonds picked up his seventh hold of the year with three scoreless frames before handing the ball to Bautista for the ninth.
The Shorebirds got some stellar defense in center from New Jersey native Shayne Fontana, who ran down a sure gapper in left center to end the first inning and threw a man out at third in the bottom of the sixth. With one out in the bottom of the ninth, Carlos De La Cruz belted a flyball deep to left field that Doran Turchin lept up and caught on the warning track just before Pelletier muscled one out of reach of Fontana, Turchin, or anyone else.
Jean Carlos Encarnacion finished 2-for-4 at the top of the Shorebirds' lineup; the rest of Delmarva's six hits got spread out between Rizer, Hall, Fontana, and Torres.
The BlueClaws managed just five hits in the game and two after their three-hit third inning. Guzman, De La Cruz, Pelletier, Aparicio, and Trejo each got their names in the hit column.
Lakewood's Dominic Pipkin shut the Shorebirds down over five scoreless innings, surrendering just one hit while walking one and fanning four. Jhordany Mezquita came in and gave up the lead in the sixth, lasting three innings in relief.
The loss was just the third for Delmarva this season when leading after eight innings; the Shorebirds are now 62-3 in such games after enduring just their fourth walkoff loss of the year.
The Shorebirds will look to rebound against the BlueClaws on Friday night. Grayson Rodriguez (9-3, 2.69) is set to start for Delmarva against Lakewood's Victor Santos (5-8, 3.70). First pitch from FirstEnergy Park is set for 7:05 p.m., and pregame coverage on Fox Sports 960 AM and the MiLB First Pitch App begins at 6:50 with Will DeBoer on the call.
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