Finally, the good guys came out on top.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Al Zachary drew a four-pitch walk that scored Brian Moskey, and the Suns walked off with a 3-2 victory over the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks.
Thursday’s game was a nail-biter throughout. After Suns’ first baseman Eric Hamilton hit a sacrifice fly to score Thomas Hughes in the first inning, Pittsfield fans were treated to a classic pitching duel.
Hurler Ryan Simpler gave the Suns something they have desperately been looking for: dominant starting pitching. Simpler held the Sharks at bay, pitching six stellar innings of shutout baseball, yielding just three hits, issuing no walks, and throwing eight strikeouts. Aside from allowing the run in the first inning, the Sharks’ Jack Nelson found a consistent rhythm. Over seven innings, Nelson threw nine strikeouts and gave up five hits. Like Simpler, Nelson walked no batters.
The Sharks tied the game in the top of the eighth inning. Rightfielder Dillon Nelson hit an infield single, scoring Laurence Hill. In the next at-bat DH Alex Lewis slapped a single past the reach of Pittsfield shortstop Connor Moriarty, plating Jacob Rhinesmith. The Sharks had a 2-1 lead heading into the bottom of the inning.
The Suns seemed to be following their recently written script, where blowing leads in the late innings was expected. But, Trent Bryan had other ideas. Pinch-hitting for rightfielder Devin McGrath, Bryan legged out a leadoff triple. Three pitches later, Bryan crossed home plate on Thomas Hughes’ sacrifice fly to tie the game at two.
Suns’ reliever Matt Cuneo pitched a 1-2-3 ninth frame. The Sharks’ Dalton Rice took the hill in the bottom of the inning looking to hold the Suns in check and send the game into extras. However, Rice was ineffective the moment he reached the mound. While warming up, he threw multiple wild pitches that either skipped away from the catcher or landed in the dirt. Unable to find the strike zone, Rice walked Pittsfield’s Brian Moskey, Colin Gimblet, and Thomas Hughes.
With two outs in the inning, centerfielder Al Zachary faced Rice with the bases loaded. Zachary, who had three hits in the game, watched every pitch Rice threw. His patience paid off, as Zachary delivered a rare walk-off walk to snap the Suns’ four-game losing skid. The Suns poured out of the dugout and mobbed Zachary as Rice walked off of the field, dejected. He was pegged with the loss, walking four batters in just two-thirds of an inning.
Cuneo avenged for his outing in Wednesday night’s game, where he allowed the winning runs in the 12th inning and was charged with the loss. The right-hander out of Babson College pitched 1.2 perfect innings to earn his league-leading fourth win of the season.
The Suns (11-13) won’t have much time to celebrate; they are back on the road to face the Titans (10-15) tomorrow in Torrington. The team will be back at historic Wahconah Park on Saturday night at 7:00 P.M. to face off against the West Division-leading Worcester Bravehearts (17-6