Stockade Hold-Off Saguaros in Slugfest, 15-14
It took 11 hits, nine walks and six pitchers, but the Salina Stockade held off the Tucson Saguaros in the late game in the Pecos League on Wednesday afternoon, 15-14. Jared Gay and Ernie Geraci each drove in three for Salina, who have won three of their last four games. Nathan Etheridge and Chris Caffery each drove in a pair for Tucson.
Tucson looked like they were going to blow the Stockade out, scoring six runs in the top of the first inning. Christopher Eusay led off the game with a walk, then stole second and reached third on a Thomas DeBonville hit. Erwin Real followed with a single that brought home Eusay to give the Saguaros a 1-0 lead. After Etheridge reached on an error to load the bases, Caffery doubled to bring home two runs. James Prockish reached on a base hit to score Etheridge. Singles by Noah Mahoney and Eusay each drove in runs and the Saguaros had a 6-0 lead.
Salina was held off the board in the first but put up four in the bottom of the second. Alex Nielson started the inning with a walk and moved to second on a base hit by Keaven Diaz. Back-to-back fielder’s choices scored Nielson. Walks to Aaron Takacs and Jared Gay loaded the bases before Schutt drove home a run with a base hit. A hit by pitch to Nicholas Ray drove home the third run of the inning and Schutt scored on a ground out. That made it 6-4.
The Saguaros extended their lead to three in the top of the third on an RBI double by Mahoney, but Salina came right back with five in the bottom half of the inning to take the lead. Two walks and a single loaded the bases for Chase Stacy, who singled to bring home Geraci. Gay then followed with a double, clearing the bases. He scored on a single by Schutt to put Salina on top, 9-7.
Tucson came back with a run in the top of the fourth when Real hit into a fielder’s choice that scored Real. However, as they had in the previous inning, the Stockade responded right away, this time scoring four runs. Back-to-back singles by Hudson Bilodeau and Geraci began the inning. Tucson reliever Eli Straw then walked three straight batters, driving home a pair of runs. Salina rolled the dice on a steal of home and it paid off as Schutt scored. A walk drove home the fourth run of the inning as the Stockade scored four runs on just two hits.
The Stockade plated a run in the bottom of the fifth and looked like they were in command of this game with a 14-8 lead, but one can never sleep on the Tucson Saguaros. They rallied for four in the top of the sixth to pull within two. Prockish drove home a run with an RBI single and Mahoney plated three with a three-run homer.
Salina added a run in the bottom of seventh on a sacrifice fly by Nielson, then looked to their bullpen to hold the lead. Ben Butler, Joey Deperno, and Jose Tejeda combined to toss 2.1 innings of scoreless relief, setting up the ninth inning.
Tommy Giunta came on looking to close out the game. He was greeted by three straight singles, plating a run. That put runners at the corners with no one out. Giunta struck out Real before getting Etheridge to ground out. That scored Eusay and moved DeBonville to second. With the tying run at second, Caffery flew out to right to end the game.
Matthew Fountain earned the victory and Giunta recorded the save. Schutt scored three runs for Salina.
By Robert Pannier