Hughes, Apollos Rally to Defeat Invaders 6-5
Yale Hughes continues to deliver for the Houston Apollos, blasting the game-winning homer in the bottom of the eighth inning to help complete the comeback victory over the Roswell Invaders, 6-5. Houston rallied from a three-run deficit, scoring five of the final six runs in the game to earn the win. Aaron Stubblefield had two hits and drove in two for the Apollos.
Houston took the lead in the bottom of the first inning against Roswell starter Steven Keller. Stubblefield led off with a base hit and moved to third on an error. He came home on a ground out by Jordan Gonzalez to put the Apollos on top 1-0.
The one run lead held through the first three innings, as Houston starter Mike Wilson dominated early on. He retired nine of the first 11 batters he faced, allowing no hits through the first three frames.
In the fourth, things changed quickly. Jacob Lentz led off with a base hit and scored when Seth Strong followed with his first homerun of the season. Ian Yetsko followed with a base hit, then stole second base, but Wilson settled down, retiring the next two batters. The third proved to be a little more challenging, as Logan Rycraft doubled to the wall, bringing home Yetsko to extend the lead to two.
In the top of the fifth, the Invaders added another run. Taichi Nakamura led off with a single, then stole second. The throw from the catcher sailed into centerfield, allowing Nakamura to reach third. He then scored on a balk, giving Roswell a 4-1 edge.
After scoring in the first, Houston did nothing against Keller. He left after four innings, allowing two hits and an unearned run. Troy Whitty came on in the fifth, and retired the Apollos in order, striking out the final two batters of the inning. However, he would give up a run in the sixth without allowing a hit or walk. Ben Tingen reached on an error, then stole second and third. He scored on a wild pitch before Whitty struck out the side.
In the seventh, Austin Marshall came on and the Apollos rallied. With one down, Daniel Arroyo delivered a pinch-hit single. Isiah Garza then reached on an error before Wilson struck out. Matt Cronin came on for Marshall and gave up a single to Stubblefield that scored both runners. Stubblefield moved to second on the play and scored when Tingen followed with a base hit, giving Houston a 5-4 lead.
Hughes took over in the top of the eighth and gave up a single to Lentz to start the inning. Collins Robinson pinch ran and moved to second on an error. He then stole third and came home when the throw went down the line.
The lead had slipped through Hughes fingers thanks to the error, but he put his team right back on top in the bottom of the eighth, drilling his fifth homer of the year to put Houston back on top, 6-5.
Roswell looked like they would rally in the top of the ninth inning. Rycraft was hit by a pitch to start the inning and moved to second on a single by Cronin. Both runners moved up on a sacrifice, putting two in scoring position with just one down. Hughes delivered though, striking out the final two batters of the game for the victory.
Hughes not only earned the win but was 2-4 with a run and an RBI. Stubblefield finished 2-4 with two runs and two RBI. Wilson took the no decision, allowing six hits and a walk in seven innings. He struck out seven. The Invaders got two hits from Lentz and two RBI from Strong.
By Robert Pannier