Justin Ellison Delivers Walk-Off Single in 11th to Give Rome Braves 3-2 Win
It has been the Charleston RiverDogs that have been the ones delivering the dramatic victories this season but, Wednesday afternoon, the Rome Braves got one of their own. Tied in the bottom of the 11th, Justin Ellison delivered a clutch single to left that scored the winning run, sending the Rome Braves to the 3-2 victory.
The game started out well for the Charleston RiverDogs. They scored a run in both the second and third innings against Braves starter Mike Soroka. In the second, Soroka retired the first two batters of the inning, but Gosuke Katoh walked to keep the inning alive. That brought Alexander Palma to the plate, who hit a ball off the wall in left field that scored Katoh to make it 1-0.
In the top of the third, Cesar Diaz started the inning with a single and moved to second a wild pitch. Soroka was able to retire the next two hitters and it looked like he would get the third, but an error by the left fielder allowed Connor Spencer to reach, scoring Diaz to extend the lead to two.
It would stay that way until the bottom of the fifth when Rome scored two against Charleston starter Daris Vargas. Carlos Castro was the first hitter of the inning and he hit a ball deep over the left-center field wall for his third homer of the season. Leudys Baez was then hit by a pitch and Yeudi Grullon followed with a sacrifice that moved Baez to second. A fly ball moved him to third, and a ground ball by Luke Dykstra scored Baez to tie the score. Then the marathon began.
Both teams got outstanding pitching out of their bullpens. Anyelo Gomez pitched four scoreless innings of 1-hit relief for Charleston. Bladimir Matos and Josh Graham pitched two outstanding innings each for Rome. Graham was perfect in the eighth and ninth, striking out three.
In the top of the 11th it looked like the RiverDogs may get the lead. Matt Custred was working on his second inning of relief for Rome. He allowed a single to start the inning, but a great play by Custred on a bunt attempt by Nathan Mikolas cut the lead runner, to make it first and one out. Two batters later Palma singled and both runners moved into scoring position on an error. The go-ahead run was just 90-feet away, but Custred struck out Eduardo Navas to end the threat.
In the bottom of the inning David Sosebee took over for Gomez. He allowed a single to Jonathan Morales to begin the frame. Bradley Keller pinch-ran for Morales and moved to second on a passed ball. With Ellison still at the plate, he hit a fly ball to left field that dropped in, scoring Keller to win the game.
Dykstra remains red hot for the Rome Braves, going 3-5 with an RBI. He extended his hitting streak to nine, a span that has seen him go 17-39 (.436). Palma had 4-hits for Charleston in his debut with the team, and Diaz was 3-5 with a run and a double.
The Rome Braves (23-25) now head to the road to begin a four-game series with the Greensboro Grasshoppers (31-28). The Charleston RiverDogs (34-23) head home to begin a series with the Asheville Tourists (30-28) Thursday night. Christian Morris (3-1, 2.62) starts for Charleston against Jack Wynkoop (6-2, 3.42). Game time is 7:05.
By Robert Pannier