Giunta Dominant as Stockade Rally to Down Tucson 5-4
The Salina Stockade rallied from a two-run deficit to defeat the Tuscon Saguaros in the early game in the Pecos League on Thursday. Hudson Bilodeau drove in the tying and go-ahead runs in the seventh with a single. Tommy Giunta tossed four shutout innings to earn the victory. The loss snapped the Saguaros’ 10-game winning streak.
Salina jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Aaron Takacs doubled with one down. Tucson starter Sati Santa Cruz retired the next batter, but Eddie Grimaldo walked to keep the inning alive. That brought Ernie Geraci to the plate, who lined a single up the middle to score Takacs.
The Stockade extended their lead to two in the top of the third. Alex Nielson led off with a base hit and moved to second on a wild pitch. Grimaldo moved him to third with a ground out and he scored on a sacrifice fly.
The Saguaros responded right away in the bottom of the third. Blake Berry was hit by a pitch and moved to second when Christopher Eusay drew a free pass. Marcus Catalano then singled to right, bringing Berry around to score. After a double-play erased Catalano, Nathan Etheridge delivered a clutch two-out single to drive home Eusay, tying the score at two.
An inning later, Tucson took the lead. James Prockish singled with one down. Santa Cruz then struck out, but Salina starter Nicholas Ray could not get out of the frame, giving up a two-run blast to Berry, his first of the season.
The Stockade bats had gone cold since the third, but they would finally get back on the board in the sixth. Grimaldo led off the inning by drilling a ball to the wall, racing into third with a triple. Back-to-back walks loaded the basses before Jose Tejeda struck out. That brought Khalyd Cox to the plate, who grounded into a fielder’s choice, scoring Grimaldo to pull Salina within one.
An inning later, the Stockade retook the lead, mounting an impressive two-out rally. Eli Straw retired the first two batters of the frame, but back-to-back singles by Nielson and Grimaldo kept the inning alive. Geraci then worked the count full before drawing a walk. That brought Bilodeau to the plate, who lined a single up the middle, bringing two home to put Salina on top, 5-4. Geraci tried to score on the play as well, but he was thrown out on a perfect relay to end the inning.
Giunta (1-1) came on in the sixth and was absolutely brilliant. The Salina reliever only found himself in trouble once, that was in the eighth when he walked two with two down. However, he got a fly out to end the threat. Giunta finished off the contest, allowing a hit and three walks in four innings.
Bilodeau and Geraci each drove in two for Salina. Grimaldi and Nielson both scored two runs. Catalano had two hits and an RBI for Tucson.
By Robert Pannier