Niagara Gazette — NIAGARA FALLS — With two outs and the bases loaded, A.J. Hammond hit a game-winning RBI single up the middle to give the Niagara Power a 5-4 win Saturday night in front of 525 fans at Sal Maglie Stadium.
It was the Power’s third straight win in the New York Collegiate Baseball League, improving their record to 4-2. It was also yet another example of a Power team that, early in the NYCBL season, is proving capable of big finishes in the end.
Both the fans and team are pleasantly discovering that.
“We had a guy that came in and spoke to our team today. At lunch we have a guy come in and speak a devotional, and he told the guys don’t ever quit. Don’t ever quit,” said Power head coach Josh Rebandt.
With one out in the bottom of the ninth, Jarrett James and Ivan Acuna walked to get on base. Ryan Wagley then singled to advance the runners. After Caleb Lang flied out to center, allowing James to score the game-tying run, John Mulhern came in as a pinch runner for Acuna. Hunter Bingham was intentionally walked to load up the bases, with Olean hoping they could get pitcher Noah Raspler to get Hammond to hit into a force play or simply get out.
Instead, Hammond smacked what was his only hit of the night, sending Mulhern home with the winning run.
“It was just a big team win. I was 0-for-4 going into that at-bat and those guys just got on base for me and I put the bat on the all and got it in,” said Hammond.
After holding off an early challenge by the Oilers to take an early lead, Niagara got on the scoreboard first in the bottom of the opening inning. James walked to take first base then advanced to second when Acuna’s well-placed bunt was misplayed by Olean first baseman Mark Lepri and Acuna got on safely. The Power’s number three hitter, Wagley, then singled to bring James home, followed two hitters later by Bingham hitting a sacrifice fly to right to score Acuna.