Malquin Canelo was preparing to answer a question posed to him from Crosscutters Vice President Gabe Sinicropi following Sunday's game when Jairo Cardozo weaved his way through a crowd and attacked the shortstop with a towel full of shaving cream.
It's become the penalty in baseball for coming up with a big play. And last night, Cardozo put into the motion the play which led the Cutters to a 2-1 win in 12 innings over Lowell. The Dominican native hit a grounder at Spinners third baseman Carlos Asuaje with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the 12th, but Asuaje's throw home was wide of the plate allowing Gabriel Lino to score the winning run.
Lino, who hit a solo home run in the second inning for the Cutters' other run, went straight from sliding across home plate to jumping in the air to celebrate with Gustavo Martinez behind the left-hand batter's box. Cardozo's run-scoring fielder's choice put to bed 8 2/3 innings of brilliant relief pitching from Tyler Buckley, Lee Ridenhour and Rob Marcello which ended with Marcello picking up his first professional win.
The Williamsport Crosscutters’ Jiandido Tromp safely steals second base during the fourth inning on Sunday night at Bowman Field as Lowell Spinners second baseman Cleuluis Rondon receives the throw.
It was the second walk-off win of the year for Williamsport.
"I didn't expect it, but when I saw the bad throw I knew we had it," said Cutters outfielder Jiandido Tromp, who had a single in the 12th inning. "I'll take it."
For a Williamsport offense which has the third-best team batting average in the New York-Penn League, Sunday's win was of the grind-it-out variety against a Spinners team with a sub-3.00 ERA. Of the five pitchers the Spinners put on the mound, the first was a second-round pick in this year's draft who got more than $900,000 in a signing bonus. The second struck out six in three innings and has a second ERA of just 2.10.
The third was Matt Maloney who was on a rehab assignment after pitching for the Minnesota Twins last year. Then there was Carlos Pinales who has a 1.17 ERA for the season. The Cutters best chance for scoring last night came against the Spinners' final pitcher, Greg Larson who took the loss, but still has a 2.63 ERA.
It's been that kind of homestand, though, for the Cutters. They'll enter the final game of the six-game homestand today needing a win to break even. Facing the kind of pitching they have against Hudson Valley and Lowell, a 3-3 homestand doesn't seem too shabby.
"There's a lot of movement from all those pitchers," Tromp said. "You just try to get a good pitch, put a good swing on it and see what happens. You can't get frustrated because you have to keep going and at some point it's going to come."
"We're facing pitching which is both top five in the league. So when you're facing good pitching you have to grind," Williamsport manager Nelson Prada said. "They've got three or four guys with ERAs more than four and they didn't pitch (Sunday or Saturday), so (Monday) night we might have better opportunities. They were very good the last two days with their pitching. They used their best guys in the first two games."
It was the three arms out of the bullpen, though, which gave the Williamsport offense a chance to grind out a win Sunday with more than 2,400 fans watching at Bowman Field. Buckley allowed just one hit in 3 1/3 innings. Ridenhour allowed only one in three innings, and Marcello allowed one hit in two innings of relief.
Ridenhour stranded the potential go-ahead run on third base in the top of the ninth inning and faced just one batter over the minimum in his outing. Marcello stranded the bases loaded in the top of the 12th inning and kept the game tied, thanks in part to a stellar play from first baseman Logan Pierce.
With runners at the corners and one out, Pierce got a chopper off the bat of Kevin Mager. With Manuel Margot, potentially the fastest player in the Red Sox system, breaking from third on the play, Pierce threw home, getting Margot in a run-down. Pierce caught the throw home from third baseman Zach Green to record a huge second out.
After a walk loaded the bases, Marcello got out of the inning with a strikeout.
"I think that was the right play. When the game is on the line, you cannot assume a double play," Prada said of Pierce making the play at home. "You have to go to second, and then you have to go to first and maybe it's a pitcher running to first base. It's more chances to make an error or for somebody to not be in the right place. So you go to the plate and you get the guy out and now you've got two outs and a ground ball and the inning is over, or a fly ball and the inning is over."
"We were saying we need to win this ballgame right now," Tromp said of Marcello escaping the jam. "(The bullpen) has been doing a good job, so let's pick it up and win this ballgame."
Lino led off the bottom of the 12th with a single, his third hit of the game. After Pierce failed to get a bunt down, Lino moved to second anyway thanks to a wild pitch.
Tromp, who was on base three times, singled to left field, but Lino had to hold at third after making sure the ball got through the infield. Larson intentionally walked Samuel Hiciano to load the bases and Canelo bounced a 2-2 pitch to Asuaje whose throw was up the first-base line, pulling catcher Carson Blair off the plate and allowing Lino to score.
And of course, the bouncer to third was good enough to earn Canelo a face full of shaving cream.
"That's just like the big leagues," Tromp said. "We want to be there, so we'll do the same thing."