AZL Indians rally late to beat AZL Reds 5-3 in extras
Washington homer in 10th give Tribe victory
GOODYEAR – The AZL Indians opened the second half of the AZL season Friday night by snapping their three game losing streak, as they rallied past their complex rival AZL Reds 5-3 in 10 innings. After coming back to tie the game in the late innings, the Tribe got a boost they desperately needed from LeVon Washington, who smacked a two-run blast in the top of the 10th inning and continued his red-hot offensive stretch.
The AZL Indians also welcomed pitcher Josh Tomlin to the team on the evening. Tomlin, who made 16 starts for the big club last year, got the rehab start and worked one solid inning before yielding to the regularly scheduled started Mitch Brown.
After a quiet first inning for both teams, the Tribe got on the board first with a two run second. Matt LaPorta led off the inning with a ground ball single deep in the hole between second and third. Grant Fink then drew a walk andShane Rowland followed by laying a great bunt down the third base line, which he beat out for a single to load the bases with nobody out. Right fielder Victor Cabral would bring in the first run on an RBI, scoring LaPorta from third. The second run would be plated on a wild pitch that struck out Yonathan Mendoza, but kicked far enough away from the AZL Reds’ catcher to allow Fink to slide in safely. The rally gave the AZL Indians the early 2-0 lead.
The AZL Reds were fairly quick to respond, however, as they got to Brown in the bottom of the third inning with two runs of their own. Kevin Garcia was the first batter to get a good read off of Brown and he managed to crush a laser to the deepest part of the field in the left center field gap. The ball would end up rolling all of the way to the wall and Garcia’s great speed coupled with a slight bobble by Silento Sayles would give Garcia the opportunity to make it all the way around the bases for an inside the park home run. Brown then gave up a consecutive double and single for another run in the inning.
Despite this minor setback, Brown was pretty good on the night, working out of several jams to keep his team in the game. He finished allowing only these two runs on five hits in four innings with an impressive seven strikeouts and two walks.
Two more scoreless innings would follow before the AZL Reds took their first lead of the night in the bottom of the sixth inning. Reliever Anderson Polanco, in his first inning of work, issued a two out walk before Garcia, a thorn in the Tribe’s side all night, laced a double down the left field line to score the go ahead run.
It looked as though this 3-2 AZL Reds’ lead would hold up and the AZL Indians offense would struggle down the stretch. However, this would not be the case, as the Tribe bats were able to come through big in the late innings.
In the top of the eighth, center fielder Clint Frazier got a rally started with a lined single to right. LaPorta followed with a walk and both he and Frazier were able to advance to second and third, respectively, on a balk by AZL Reds’ reliever Juan Martinez. The AZL Indians then managed to scratch out the game tying run on a Grant Fink ground ball to short, which the AZL Reds’ shortstop threw into the dirt at first base, letting Frazier come home on the play. This would be all the Tribe could push across in this inning as LaPorta was thrown out also trying to score on the error, but the one run was enough to tie the game 3-3.
AZL Indians were able to hold the AZL Reds at bay, thanks to reliever Jordan Milbrath, who was dominate, as he usually is, in the late innings. Neither team would score in the ninth to send yet another game into extras.
In the top of the tenth, Washington would come up huge for the Tribe. After a lead off single by Ordomar Valdez, Washington, who had been 0-4 up to this point, stepped to the plate and launched a home run well over the right center field wall to put the AZL Indians up 5-3.
Carlos Melo closed the door in the bottom of the tenth to seal the victory for the Tribe.
Neither the offense nor the pitching was spectacular, but both were good enough to get the job done on Friday. Tribe pitchers yielded seven hits and only five walks, showing marked improvement from earlier in the week. They also managed to strike out an impressive 14 AZL Reds on the night.
Additionally, the top four hitters in the AZL Indians’ lineup all collected hits, headlined by Washington’s game winning bomb. He now has a slash line of .486/.584/.946 in his last ten games, including seven extra base hits (four home runs), nine runs scored, 13 RBIs and two stolen bases. Nothing short of scorching hot, Washington has certainly demonstrated the talent that he possesses and should hopefully be looking for a call up in the near future.
The AZL Indians will play the AZL Reds again on Saturday in Goodyear before two key games against the division leading AZL Dodgers. First pitch will be at 7 p.m.