A grand slam in the the top of the ninth inning off the bat of Washington WildThings (13-10) shortstop Mike Hill gave his team an 11-9 comeback win over the River City Rascals (11-12) in game two of the three game series Wednesday night at CarShield Field.
The grand slam was the WildThings fourth long ball of the game and they all came after the Rascals had an 8-1 lead.
The first of the Rascals eight runs got going when catcher Mike Jurgella clubbed a two-run shot in the fourth inning against WildThings starter Trevor Belicek to give his team their first lead of the game at 2-1.
One inning later, the Rascals batted around and put together their largest offensive inning of the season, totaling six runs and notched five extra-base hits.
Jimmy Kerrigan got the offensive stanza going with a single and then scampered home on a triple from third year Rascal Josh Silver.
Braxton Martinez then got himself into a plus count situation and cranked a double to push the Rascals lead to three and then he got over to third base one batter later on a sacrifice bunt from Jurgella.
Josh Ludy added the innings third run with a RBI single and Brandon Thomas followed with a double to chase the WildThings starter out of the game.
The first reliever out of the bullpen was Mark Smyth and Clint Freeman greeted him with his second hit of the night, a two RBI double to give the Rascals a 7-1 lead. Jason Merjano drove in the final run of the inning with RBI triple, extending his hitting streak to seven games.
However, the 8-1 lead wouldn’t be enough as the WildThings countered with three home runs that accounted for five runs in the top of the sixth against a pair of Rascals arms.
The first long ball was a two run shot from Bralin Jackson off Dan Ludwig and then the following two came against the Rascals first reliever of the night, Nate Hoffmann, to make the score 8-6 heading into the bottom of the sixth.
River City extended the lead to three runs after an error by the WildThings left fielder, Jackson, that scored Josh Silver. However, that would be the final run of the game and the Rascals bullpen was unable to hold on to the lead.
The Rascals would end up using a total of six relievers and after Lucas Laster allowed a run in the eighth, Stephen Swagerty took the mound for the ninth in search for his second save of the year.
The WildThings had the top of the order due up and leadoff man Rashad Brown drew a walk to bring the tying run to the plate. Swagerty issued a flyout to Alex Fernandez and then a single, strikeout and a infield single loaded the bases with two outs.
With left-handed hitter Mike Hill due up, the Rascals went to southpaw Clint Freeman to try and earn his first save as a member of the Rascals. However, a 2-1 pitch was sent over the leftfield wall giving the WildThings the 11-9 comeback win. The grand slam was the second of the series, and the third the Rascals have given up over the past seven games.
Swagerty took the loss while WildThings reliever Zach Strecker earned the win, is fourth of the year.
“We have had only one game now in our past eight that we didn’t give up six or more runs and it’s at least the fifth time this year through the first 23 games that we have blown the lead in the fifth inning or later,” manager Steve Brook said. “Having the 8-1 lead at home and the bullpen not being able to get the job done really hurt tonight.”
Offensively, the Rascals totaled 14 hits, three away from their season high which was set on Tuesday night in the series opener.
Of the 14 hits, eight of them were for extra-bases and Josh Silver led the way with three, his second time in 2017 notching three extra-base hits in a single game.
The series finale is scheduled for Thursday night at 6:35 p.m. with Reese Gregory on the mound.