Etheridge Leads Saguaros Rally Past Apollos 18-7
The Tucson Saguaros found themselves trailing 7-1 heading into the bottom of the sixth Friday evening, but 17 unanswered runs helped the team to rally to defeat the Houston Apollos, 18-7. Nathan Etheridge swung the big bat, driving in five and scoring three runs. The Saguaros bullpen was outstanding, tossing 3.1 innings of scoreless relief, giving their team the opportunity to rally.
After a scoreless first inning, the Apollos would score single runs in each of the next three frames. In the second, Dylan Sunnafrank led off with a base hit, then stole second, and scored on a clutch two-out hit by Aaron Stubblefield. An inning later, Larry Rodriguez started the frame with a double, moved to third on a wild pitch and came home on a sharp single off the bat of Tevin Brown. In the fourth, the leadoff batter got on for the third straight inning, this time Jordan Gonzalez who singled to begin the frame. After Nick Coffman walked, Stubblefield doubled, bringing Gonzalez home to extend the Houston lead to three.
Coffman started for the Apollos and was dominant, allowing just two hits through the first four innings. He came out in the bottom of the fifth, and Tucson was able to get on the board. Larry Rodriguez came in and was greeted by a Tyler Baumann single. Gary Mason followed with a double. Baumann was cut down at the plate on the fielder’s choice, but Mason scored on a sacrifice fly to cut the deficit to two.
Houston responded with four runs in the top of the sixth. Gonzalez began the inning by drilling his first homerun of the season. Back-to-back singles by Isiah Garza and Ben Tingen put two on with no one out. Saguaros starter Sati Santa Cruz settled down to retire the next two batters, but the third out proved to slip through his fingers as Rodriguez doubled, driving home both runners.
Tucson then turned to Eli Straw. He gave up back-to-back singles, bringing home two more runs and Houston had a 7-1 lead.
The Saguaros responded with three runs in the bottom of the frame. Etheridge singled to start the inning. An error allowed Danny Kerr to reach before Straw was hit by a pitch. With the bases loaded and no one out, Blake Berry doubled, bringing home two runs. Baumann brought home the final run of the inning with a sacrifice fly to cut the deficit to three.
The big inning has been the trademark for the Tucson Saguaros this season, and that reared its head in the bottom of the seventh as the team would score nine runs on just four hits. Three straight walks to Christopher Eusay, James Prockish, and Kerr started the inning. Mason then reached on an error, driving home a run before Chris Caffery walked to pull Tucson within one. Etheridge followed with a base hit, driving home a run to give tie the score. From there, Tucson was simply unstoppable. Kerr doubled to clear the bases, giving his team the lead, and Berry followed with a single to drive home Kerr. That brought Straw to the plate, who blasted a two-run homer to extend the lead to five. The Saguaros added one more insurance run in the inning.
Tucson added five more runs in the bottom of the eighth. A walk a single and a hit by pitch started the frame, loading the bases with no one out. They didn’t stay that way for long, as Etheridge blasted a grand slam, his third homerun of the season. Carlos Francisco added a solo shot in the inning to give the Saguaros an 18-7 lead. That would be the final.
Etheridge finished 3-6 with three runs scored and five RBI. Caffery was 2-3 with three runs, three walks, and two RBI. Stubblefield led Houston with three RBI and two hits.
By Robert Pannier