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Sunday, September 1, 2013
BLUEFIELD - The Pulaski Mariners broke things open in extra innings with five runs in the 10th to defeat the Bluefield Blue Jays 9-4 on Saturday night in the first game of the 2013 Appalachian League East Division playoffs at Bowen Field.
The drama-filled game included a Bluefield out due to batter interference, a Pulaski out called on runner's interference, and the ejection of Bluefield manager Dennis Holmberg at the end of the eighth inning for arguing about an out call right in front of him at third base.
The winning manager was as pleased as Holmberg was agitated.
"That was a great game on both ends, Pulaski manager Chris Prito said. "When you play baseball, that's the kind of game that you're just like, wow, we were actually a part of that game.
"It was great to come out on top. That's a good ballclub over there [Bluefield]."
Pulaski's Wilton Martinez lofted a sacrifice fly in the first to get the initial run across. Bluefield took a 3-1 lead later in the inning on a home run over left field by Mitch Nay.
Appalachian League pitcher of the year Edwin Diaz of Pulaski settled down after that, allowing three singles and two walks before being removed in the seventh. He was assisted by a pair of inning-ending double plays powered by shortstop Tyler Smith and second baseman Gabrial Franca.
The Mariners tied the score 3-3 in the third on a two-run double by Jeff Zimmerman, and went ahead in the next inning via back-to-back doubles by Kristian Brito and Toby DeMello.
However, Bluefield forged a 4-4 tie in the seventh. Matt Dean led off with a first-pitch single, moved to second on Frank Barreto's sacrifice bunt, and scored on a two-out single by Jorge Saez.
"It was nothing more than a simple adjustment. I didn't try to do too much, Saez said. "I just hit it up the middle. [It] got by, and tied the game."
In the eighth, Derrick Loveless smacked a ball deep to center field and headed for third base. He was called out on a close play.
"I thought we were getting some bad calls throughout the course of the entire ballgame. It was a bang-bang play at third base with Loveless,"Holmberg said. "I thought he was safe. The old saying is that the tie goes to the runner, and it was pretty close.
"But it was just one call after another call. That was the difference in the ballgame there."
At the end of the frame, he picked up his argument again with the home plate umpire, and was ejected as Bluefield fans cheered.
Bluefield reliever Yeyfry Del Rosario kept the home team in the game with three innings of two-hit ball, striking out six.
The Blue Jays loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth but came up empty when Nico Taylor hit into a force-out at the plate and Tim Locastro grounded out for the third out.
"The bases [were] loaded in the ninth inning, and we just didn't come up with the big at-bat out of Nico, and we got a second chance after that," Holmberg said.
In the 10th, Smith was hit by a batted ball between second and third and was called out, but Martinez wound up on first to keep the bases loaded.
Jesus Ugueto, who had struck out four times, then singled to score two runs.
"I looked for a good pitch," Ugueto said with the help of an interpreter. "I knew I could hit a fly ball, for one score. I hit it the opposite way. I found the pitch and hit the ball hard.
"We had a good record on the road this season. I never felt nervous, because I have confidence in our team."
"We probably caught a break there," Prieto said. "I don't know who got the break. That interference could have been a double-play ball, too. The ball bounced our way a little bit, tonight."
A wild pitch allowed Martinez to score, and DeMello closed it out with a home run past the flagpole in left center.
"It was a tough pill to swallow, and we're just going to have to come back and play [tonight]," Holmberg said.
Pulaski.......... .......................102 100 000 5 - 9 13 1
Bluefield...............................300 000 100 0 - 4 9 1
Edwin Diaz, Leoncio Munoz (7), Rafael Pineda (9), Luis Pina (10) and Toby DeMello. Jairo Labourt, Yeyfry Del Rosario (6), Phil Kish (9) and Jorge Saez. WP - Pineda. LP - Kish. HR - Pul, DeMello, (10th, 1 on); Blfd May, (1st, 2 on). Att - 310.
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