The Twins scored three of their last four runs on wild pitches, including the game-winner in walk-off fashion in the bottom of the 10th inning. The 7-6 Appalachian League win over Princeton at Northeast Community Credit Union Ballpark kept Elizabethton in first place in the West Division.
“After 30 years I’ve learned one thing,” said Twins’ manager Ray Smith. “Let’s just wait until all the dust settles and see if we’re the winner or the loser. I’ve seen some ugly stuff happen. Sometimes you’re on the delivering end, and sometimes you’re on the receiving end.”
The Twins improved to 19-15, one game better than Johnson City. Elizabethton will try to win the three-game home series with the Rays during Thursday’s finale at 6:30 p.m.
TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE RULE
Under Appy League rules, a runner is placed at second base to start the 10th inning. In the top half, Luis Leon wasted no time, cracking a single to center field that plated Jelfry Marte for a one-run lead. Twins’ pitcher Osiris German (3-0) limited the damage by sandwiching a pair of strikeouts around a pop fly.
In the bottom half, a wild pitch and leadoff walk put runners on the corners. Anthony Prato’s hard ground ball got under the glove of the second baseman and the game was tied. Seth Gray struck out, and Parker Phillips was intentionally walked to load the bases.
Matt Wallner struck out on a ball in the dirt, but it got away from the catcher and Willie Joe Garry Jr. scored from third base.
REFUSING TO BE CLOSED OUT
Down to their last out in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Twins erased a two-run deficit. Max Smith was hit by a pitch and Ruben Santana followed with a double.
Rays’ reliever Mitchell Walters contributed to the Elizabethton cause by uncorking back-to-back wild pitches, first plating Smith and then allowing Santana to score. That sent the game to extra innings.
A BIG BLOW
It was a scoreless game in the top of the fifth inning when Brett Wisely dramatically changed things. The 20-year-old from Jacksonville, Florida, hit a line drive into the right-center field gap. By the time the adventure was finished, Wisely was standing on third base with three RBIs in his back pocket.
The dagger scuffed an otherwise strong outing for Twins’ starter Ben Gross, who allowed three hits and three runs with four walks and three strikeouts in four innings. A pair of those walks preceded Wisely’s hit.
Wisley struck again in the seventh inning, this time with an RBI groundout. He finished the game with four RBIs. The Rays also got two hits each from Nick Schnell and Yunior Martinez.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Elizabethton had an immediate answer for Wisely’s triple. After a Charles Mack walk, Smith authored a two-run homer over the right field fence. It was Smith’s third homer in his last three games.
“My swing feels good and I’m just looking for a pitch to handle and do some damage,” said Smith. “You just have to ride it out and keep doing exactly what you’re doing, and hopefully get the same results.”
ON THE MOUND
Taj Bradley started for the Rays and was in line for the win, but was denied because of the Twins’ ninth-inning rally. Bradley worked five innings and allowed just two hits and two runs. He walked three and struck out five.