ASHEVILLE, NC – The Asheville Tourists and Shorebirds opened a four-game series at McCormick Field in dramatic fashion Sunday, with a back-and-forth extra inning contest culminating in a 6-3 Delmarva win. Asheville owned a 2-1 lead for most of the way, but a Shorebirds run in the top of the ninth tied it at 2-2, and a three-run rally in the top of the 12th inning gave them the victory.
Asheville got on the board quickly with a run in their first turn at bat. Jimmy Cesario ripped a one-out double into right-center field and Jordan Pacheco drove him in with a base hit to right to give the Tourists a 1-0 lead.
Delmarva tied it up in the top of the second when catcher Victor Castillo drew a leadoff walk. After a fielder’s choice, Kyle Hudson stood on first with one away. A groundout advanced Hudson to second base and, with two away, Ron Welty delivered his first of three hits, plating Hudson to tie the game at 1-1.
The Tourists took the lead right back in the bottom of the frame when Cesario led off with a base hit. He then advanced from first-to-third on a couple of wild pitches and Mike Zuanich drove him in with a single to give Asheville the 2-1 advantage.
Starting pitcher Dan Houston pitched well enough to earn the win, but got stuck with the no-decision. Houston went 6.0 innings, allowing just a run on six hits with five strikeouts.
Isaiah Froneberger pitched two scoreless innings of relief and passed the game along to the closer, Adam Jorgenson, in the top of the ninth. Jorgenson gave up a leadoff single to Joe Mahoney, who promptly stole second base. After a popout and a strikeout, L.J. Hoes came up with the game on the line and lashed a base hit into left field to score Mahoney and tie the game at 2-2. Hoes was thrown out by Tyler Massey trying to stretch the single into a double, but the damage had been done.
Asheville went down quietly in the bottom of the ninth, but the game changed beginning in the top of the tenth, with several exciting plays. Working against Tyler Trice, Victor Castillo led off the top of the tenth with a base hit and was then lifted for a pinch runner, Rodolfo Cardona. Kyle Hudson got the call to sacrifice bunt, and did so successfully. Trice then walked Greg Miclat intentionally to set up a potential double play. With runners on second and third, Ron Welty hit a high fly ball to deep right field that banged high off the 36-foot-high fence. Cardona hesitated on the play, but took off when the ball dropped, trying to score from second. David Christensen played it off the wall in right field and threw a strike to the plate. The throw was high, but Jordan Pacheco leapt, caught the ball, and dived toward the plate just in time to tag Cardona for the second out. That kept the game tied, and Trice struck out Elvin Polanco to end the threat.
The Tourists had a chance to win it in their half of the tenth inning after Cesario drew a walk to lead things off. Jordan Pacheco was then hit by pitch and Mike Zuanich sacrificed the runners to second and third. With one out, Delmarva chose to walk Ryan Peisel intentionally to load the bases. David Christensen struck out for the second out of the inning and Tyler Massey grounded out to third base to end the threat and strand the bases loaded.
Trice came back out to work the top of the eleventh and struck out the first batter he faced. He then allowed a single to Tyler Kolodny but erased him from the bases with a caught stealing. With two outs, Xavier Avery drew a walk and stole second base. Hoes then stepped in and lined a single up the middle. Delmarva waved Avery around third base as Scott Robinson came up throwing in center field. The throw from Robinson was slightly high, and Jordan Pacheco stood on the plate and leapt to receive it. As Pacheco came down, Avery bowled into the backstop, stepping on home plate. Pacheco came up still grasping the ball, but home plate umpire Joel Myers called Avery safe to make it 3-2 Shorebirds. Asheville manager Joe Mikulik stormed out of the dugout and vehemently disagreed with the call, earning himself an ejection. Welty stood on second base, having advanced on the throw home, and he was also waved around third when Luis Bernardo singled up the middle. Robinson once again threw a strike toward the plate, and this time the outcome was clear, nailing Welty at the plate for the final out of the frame.
With their backs against the wall, Beau Seabury struck out to begin the bottom of the eleventh. Carlos Martinez then energized the crowd with a double to the gap in right-center field, his second double of the contest. Scott Robinson went down on strikes for the second out and, down to their final out, Jimmy Cesario chopped one to second base. Hoes fielded it but his throw was wide to first, allowing Martinez to score from second to tie the game at 3-3. After a Pacheco double, Zuanich popped out with runners on second and third to send it to the twelfth.
Kurt Yacko came on for Trice and was knocked around by the Shorebirds lineup. Hudson led off with a base hit, then Yacko walked Welty intentionally following a strikeout. With runners on first and second, Elvin Polanco brought in the go-ahead run with a base hit, plating Hudson to give his team a 4-3 lead. After a flyout by Mahoney, Delmarva rattled off three consecutive singles, including RBI’s for Kolodny and Avery to take a 6-3 lead. With two away and runners on first and second, Hoes singled to right field, and David Christensen threw home for yet another play at the plate, gunning Kolodny down at the plate for the final out.
Asheville went down in order in the bottom of the twelfth, as T.R. Keating struck out the final two batters to end the game.
The Tourists (17-12) and Shorebirds (15-14) will meet again Monday night for game two of the series, beginning at 7:05. Asheville will have RHP Robinson Fabian (2-6, 6.49) making the start, and he will face Delmarva RHP Oliver Drake (6-6, 3.70). Tickets for Monday’s game and all Tourists home games are available by contacting the Tourists box office at (828) 258-0428. You can also listen to all 140 Asheville Tourists games live on 100.7 WRES FM or streaming online at www.theashevilletourists.com.