Real Powers Saguaros Past Apollos 9-6
Erwin Real homered and drove in three runs as the Tucson Saguaros defeated the Houston Apollos on Thursday afternoon, 9-6. Tucson jumped out to a 9-2 lead before hanging on for the victory. Isaac Olguin earned the win in relief.
The Saguaros jumped out in front with a run in the top of the first inning. With one down, Thomas DeBonville reached on an error and moved to second on a wild pitch. He scored when Real singled. Two batters later, Danny Kerr double and Chris Caffery walked to load the bases, but Houston starter Marshall Mindieta was able to limit the damage by getting James Prockish to ground out to end the inning.
In the second, Tucson extended their lead to four. As in the first, an misplay helped to get things started when Gary Mason reached on an error by the shortstop. Christopher Eusay walked to put two on with two down before Real singled into right field to bring home Mason. Nathan Etheridge followed by grounding to second, but the ball was misplayed, loading the bases for Kerr. He drilled a base hit up the middle, driving home Eusay and Real to give the Saguaros a 4-0 lead.
The Apollos got one of those runs back in the bottom of the frame. Misplays were the story of the game, as Christian Briscoe reached on an error to put a runner at second with two down. Back to back walks to Mindieta and Myles Waley loaded the bases for Rodney Goldsmith, who drew the third straight walk to drive home Briscoe.
The Saguaros extended their lead to five thanks to the long ball. With one down, Cody Earl blasted his first homerun of the season. That brought Mason to the plate, who crushed his third of the year to put Tucson on top, 6-1.
Not to be outdone, Real led off the top of the fourth with his second homer of the year. The three home runs were a season-high for Tucson.
The Apollos were able to get one of those runs back in the bottom half of the inning. Daniel Arroyo walked to start the inning. Mindieta followed with a base hit into right. Arroyo tried for third but was thrown out. That put a runner at second with two down, however, the third out proved to be elusive for Olguin as he walked Waley and Goldsmith then reached on an error by the Tucson pitcher. That allowed Mindieta to score.
The Saguaros responded with two runs in the top of the fifth. A walk to Olguin and a wild pitch moved him into second. He scored when Eusay grounded one up the middle. Back to back walks loaded the bases for Etheridge, who singled to drive home Eusay.
Tucson looked firmly in control of this game, leading 9-2, but Houston would rally for three in the bottom of the fifth. Esteban Gomez was hit by a pitch to start the inning and moved to second when Tevin Brown reached on an error, the fourth the Saguaros committed on the day. Two batters later, Briscoe singled to drive home Gomez. Both runners moved up on the throw to the plate, putting two in scoring position. Olguin got Arroyo to pop out, but Dillon Sunnafrank worked the count full before drilling a single up the middle to score both Brown and Briscoe.
After putting up runs in each of the first five innings, the Saguaros bats suddenly went silent. Sunnafrank tossed two scoreless frames before Tyler Blair and Houston Williams each tossed a scoreless inning.
The work of the bullpen gave Houston a chance to get back into this game, but the Tucson’s bullpen was up to the task as well. Jay Causey came on in the sixth and did not yield a run over his two innings of work. Martin Alcoverde came on of the eighth and tossed a scoreless inning.
Edwin St-Hilaire came on in the ninth, and the Apollos were finally able to get back on the board. Back to back walks started the inning before Brown singled to score Yale Hughes. That cut the deficit to three with the tying run coming to the plate in the form of Pat Mccray. He singled into right field and it looked like Gomez would easily score, but a great throw by Briscoe nailedthe runner at the plate. That seem to buoy the confidence of St-Hilaire, who got two shallow fly outs to end the game.
Real finished three for three with two runs scored and three RBI. Kerr had three hits and drove in two runs.
By Robert Pannier