BY MICHAEL MROZIAK firstname.lastname@example.org
Niagara Gazette — The Hornell Dodgers needed just one big inning to show why they’re the top team in the New York Collegiate Baseball League.
A six-run rally in the seventh inning erased the Niagara Power’s 3-0 lead and sent the visiting Dodgers on their way to a 10-5 win Saturday night at Sal Maglie Stadium.
Power head coach Josh Rebandt could only look back on the game that got away and dropped Niagara’s record to 16-12 and improved Hornell’s to 23-6.
“We just didn’t execute towards the later part of the game, which is when we’re usually pretty good,” he said. “Once we turn the ball over to our bullpen, things usually turn out pretty well for us. Tonight it didn’t. It’s just one of those nights we didn’t execute well and they did when they needed to.
The Dodgers got on the scoreboard and cut Niagara’s three-run lead to just two runs in the sixth inning. That’s when Spencer Scorza reached first when A.J. Hammond misplayed the throw from third. He later scored on Jimmy Latona’s base hit.
Then disaster struck for the Power in the seventh. Hornell’s Jake Kenney led off with a single. The next batter, Rayshelton Carolina, walked to get on base. The runners then advanced on Brandon Sandoval’s hit to Turner, who threw the ball to first for the out. The Power then intentionally walked Johnson to load the bases and try for force outs but the next hitter, Hank Morrison, singled to score Kenney and Carolina. Scorza then singled, scoring Johnson. Lewis followed with a big triple to right field that scored Morrison and Scorza. Lewis came home on a sacrifice fly by Latona for the last of Hornell’s six runs that inning.
“I think we had some opportunities with some two-out innings which we didn’t capitalize on,” said Rebandt when asked if he felt there was a defining play which reversed the game’s fortunes .”I don’t think it was necessarily any one thing, because we had some times when we had an opportunity to break it open and we didn’t.”
The Power had built up a 3-0 lead by the fifth inning and the defense was generally clicking in the first half of the game. The Dodgers threatened to score in the first three innings but both starting pitcher Perry Turner and the fielders played roles to leave Hornell scoreless. In the first inning, Turner gave up two consecutive hits to start the game but Gabe Sevigny, Ivan Acuna and Hammond combined for a double play that cleared the bases. Turner then got Hank Morrison to fly out to end the inning.
In the second inning, Turner gave up a single and walk that put runners on base but then struck out two consecutive batters to end the inning and get out of the jam.
Niagara’s offense, meanwhile, worked up its lead slowly, one run at a time. Their first came in the bottom of the first inning. Tyler Marcinko led off with a walk, stole second then advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Jack Trotman. He was brought home as Acuna grounded out with one out.
The Power went up 2-0 in the second inning with a combination of luck and thoughtful base running. Hunter Bingham’s ground to short looked like an easy double play was about to unfold but the shortstop, Thad Johnson, bobbled the ball and instead ending the inning the Power loaded up the bases. Niagara then scored its second run of the game when Sevigny grounded to second base. The Dodgers forced Bingham out at second, but Niagara’s designated hitter stopped running midway between first and second, preventing an easy throw to first and keeping the inning alive as Hammond scored from third with just two outs.
Bingham scored again in the fifth inning to make it 3-0 in favor of the home team. The following inning was when it all unraveled for them.
The Power picked up two more runs in the bottom of the seventh but any hopes of a miracle finish like the one seen against Syracuse Thursday night quickly vanished. In the eighth, Sandoval singled to get on base then scored from there when Niagara pitcher Tyler Von Dracek’s pickoff move missed first base and rolled deep to into right field foul territory.
More miscues in the top of the ninth let the Dodgers get two more runs to give them a more comfortable lead. Hornell closer Jeff Beall retired three straight batters to end the game.
Elliott Lance (1-0) picked up the win for the Dodgers while Daniel Twitty (1-3) took the loss for Niagara.
The Power travel to Wellsville today to face the Nitros in a doubleheader that begins at 2 p.m., their last games before the NYCBL All-Star Break. The team is hoping to head into that break on a high.
“It’s part of our quarterly goals,” said Rebandt. “I think that’s motivation enough, to win each quarter of the season that we have and the two games that we’ll have (Sunday) are just as important than there rest of the games that we’ll have after the break.”