The Game: The Princeton Rays battled back from a four run deficit to defeat the Bluefield Orioles 7-6 in extra innings at Bowen Field on Wednesday night. Bluefield took the lead in the first inning. Gary Helmick led off with a double to left and then advanced to third on a ground out by Luis Ramirez. Joel Polanco followed with a ground ball to third to score Helmick and give the Orioles a 1-0 lead.
The Rays battled back to take the lead in the second inning. Julio Cedeno drew a walk and Seth Henry was hit by a pitch to give Princeton runners on first and second. Cedeno then broke for third on a steal and came home after a throwing error by Bluefield’s catcher Joel Polanco, Henry advanced to third on the play. Tomas Francisco singled to center scoring Henry and giving Princeton a 2-1 lead.
Bluefield answered in the bottom of the third off a solo home run by Gary Helmick to once again tie the game. The tie held until the bottom of the fifth when Bluefield struck for four runs. Luis Ramirez tripled to center to get things going. Joel Polanco then singled to center to score Ramirez. Michael Flacco cleared the bases with a two run home run. The Orioles got their fourth run of the inning off an RBI double by Corey Thomas that scored Jose Kianes and put Bluefield on top 6-2.
The Rays cut into Bluefield’s lead in the sixth inning. Ryan Wiegand singled to center to start the inning. Julio Cedeno was hit by a pitch for the second Princeton base runner. Seth Henry drove home Wiegand thanks in part to a fielding error by Bluefield’s Gary Helmick. Tomas Francisco followed with an RBI single to score Cedeno and pull the Rays to within two runs of the lead.
The rally continued into the seventh inning as Daniel Rhault led off the inning with a single. Ty Morrison followed by drawing a walk. Ryan Wiegand drove home both runners with a single to right to tie the game.
The game stayed tied at six runs a piece until the top of the eleventh inning when Cody Rogers belted a solo home run to right to give the Rays a one run advantage. The Rays kept the Orioles off the scoreboard in the bottom of the eleventh, holding on for the 7-6 win.
Trevor Shull started for Princeton and surrendered 6 runs (5 earned) on 8 hits while striking out 3 and walking 2 in 4 2/3 innings of work. Jeffrey Cinadr followed with 3 1/3 scoreless innings allowing 2 hits and striking out 5. Alex Koronis earned the win, pitching 3 scoreless frames and giving up 2 hits while striking out 6 and walking 2. Thomas Phelps was the losing pitcher for Bluefield.
What Went Right: The Bullpen; combined for 6 1/3 shutout innings while striking out 11 batters. Ryan Wiegand; 4 for 6 with 2 RBI’s and a run scored.
What Went Wrong: Ty Morrison; 0 for 5 with 4 K’s in the leadoff spot.
A Look Ahead: The Rays will try and clinch the Mercer Cup with a win Thursday night against Bluefield at Hunnicutt Field.