Invader streak stretches to six with victory over Pupfish
Case Rigby picks off Matthew Faiman at first. (Photo by Robert Bailey)
By Karen Boehler
Pecos League writer
ROSWELL — After five innings of not looking good at all, the Roswell Invaders bounced back yet again Sunday, going from a 5-0 deficit vs. White Sands to a 7-6 victory. And the key to the win was a pitcher, pinch hitter Jonathan Sa, who tied the game at 6-6 in the eighth before Erick Gaylord gave Roswell the one run edge. Jacob Cook then came in and got the Pupfish one-two-three in the ninth to give the Invaders their sixth straight win.
“Our guys keep battling,” said Invader manager Chris Ebright. “Kids kept battling. Tip your hat to his starting pitcher. We couldn’t figure him out.”
White Sands came into the game looking strong, as the bats made contact and starter Justin Kuks shut the Invaders down.
The ’Fish went up 3-0 in the second when Case Rigby singled; Cody Collins reached on an error then, after Rigby was called out trying to get home, George Ban doubled and Ryan Pembroke doubled Collins and Ban in. Pembroke then scored on a wild pitch before Ed Kohout got the final out.
White Sands left the bases juiced in the third, but added a pair in the fourth when Pembroke walked, Kuks reached on an error and back-to-back singles by J.J. Constantino and Christian Ramirez brought the runners in.
Roswell finally broke their scoring drought in the bottom of the fifth, scoring two when Chad Kruse doubled, Matthew Faiman walked then, with two outs, a wild pitch and a VIncent Mejia single brought the runners in.
The Invaders made it 5-3 in the sixth off reliever Matt Barger when Gaylord walked, stole second, went to third on a walk and hit batter then came home on a fielder’s choice.
Roswell left the bases loaded — something both teams did several times Sunday — when Chad Hadzinsky got the final out.
The Pupfish got the run back in the seventh on a walk to Rigby, who advanced on a wild pitch and came home on an error.
But once again, Rowell wouldn’t go quietly, getting out of another bases-loaded jam in the top of the eighth when they turned an error by first baseman Nate Theunissen into a double play that closed out the inning, then scoring four runs in the bottom of the eighth.
Sa’s heroics were set up when Faiman reached on a Pupfish error. With one out, Mejia and McCarthy each walked to load the bases, and this time, the runners came home,
Theunissen hit into a fielder’s choice that saw Faiman out at the plate, but reliever Michael Willis walked Andrew Deeds to force in Mejia and Sa came in to pinch hit, singling home two with a ball that bounced off the pitcher’s glove then took a bad hop past the infielder. Gaylord then singled in Deeds for what would be the winning run.
“Coach (Kevin) Dore and I had a feeling (about Sa), and that’s what you do,” Ebright said. “Had a feeling he could do it and we put him in there.”
“They ended up getting runners on there then they got the hit when they needed it. That’s it. That’s baseball,” said White Sands acting manager Andrew Parrish. “We just didn’t get the timely hit when we needed it.”
What made the win even sweeter for Roswell was that the team did do terrible early on.
“We didn’t look good,” Ebright said. “Offense, defense. We did not look good at all. It was just like we were kind of out of our rhythm. Maybe it was the early game, early time. I don’t know what the reason was. We didn’t have the enthusiasm we had until the second half, and a hit here and a hit there and good things happen.”
The Pupfish out-hit the Invaders 11-8, and both teams made three errors. But 12 walks by four White Sands pitcher were enough to make the difference. Kuks, who was not involved in the decision, struck out 10 and gave up his first run of the season.
A.J. Martin got the win for Roswell with Cook getting the save.
The teams will meet again Monday in Roswell, and Parrish continued to think positive.
“I’m not worried about what they’ve got going,” he said. “I know what we’ve got here and we can beat that team. We beat ourselves right there. As simple as that. They got the timely hit and we walked a few guys and that hurt us right there and once they got the hit they got the lead. But we can play with these guys any day. I’m not worried about that. We’ve got a squad.”
Ebright said the six-game opening streak doesn’tworry him.
“No. I don’t think you get nervous at all,” he said. “We’ve still got 64 more games. It’s (a loss) going to happen. No team ever goes 70. It’s not going to happen. We’ve still got 64 more games. I’ll take these as we go.”
First pitch Monday is set for 6 p.m.
Justin Kuks had a strong five innings for White Sands, striking out 10, but wasn't involved in the decision. (Photo by Robert Bailey)
Erick Gaylord goes back for a catch in right. Gaylord also singled in the winning run for Roswell. (Photo by Robert Bailey)
Ed Kouhout started on the mound for Roswell. (Photo by Robert Bailey)
A.J. Martin was the winning pitcher for Roswell. (Photo by Robert Bailey)
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