Cutters pick up first walk-off win in strange fashion

Cord Sandberg was dead to rights, left in no man’s land after breaking on contact on an 11th-inning comebacker back Drew Stankiewicz.

Jamestown pitcher Oderman Rocha stared down the Williamsport right fielder to stop him in his tracks. Rocha tried to flip the ball to the plate to begin a rundown, but his throw floated over the head of catcher Taylor Gushue.

Sandberg clapped his hands before taking his next step and calmly touched home plate. It was a strange ending, but it was enough for the Crosscutters to win their second consecutive game, this time 5-4 over the Jammers in 11 innings Wednesday night.

Williamsport battled back from a 4-1 deficit, held Jamestown scoreless for the final eight innings, and got a key break to move back to .500 at 3-3.

It was the first walk-off win of the season for the Cutters, even if it was in the most unthinkable of fashions.

“Having guys on there with a chance to win it, I figure if you keep getting opportunities, one of them is going to get in there and one of them is going to fall,” Cutters manager Shawn Williams said.

Williamsport had multiple opportunities to win the game after first baseman Rhys Hoskins tied the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the seventh with a two-out, two-run single for his second and third RBIs as a professional, but didn’t capitalize until its 11th-inning rally.

The Cutters left runners stranded on second and third in the ninth inning because of a strikeout and a fly ball to center field. Aaron Brown reached second with nobody out in the 10th inning but was stranded there after a popup, a ground ball and a fly out.

In the 11th, Sandberg singled to center field, extending his hitting streak to seven games over the last two seasons. Jiandido Tromp followed with his fourth hit of the night, a sinking liner to left field which Jamestown’s Enyel Vallejo couldn’t make a shoestring catch on. The ball squirted past him and Sandberg got to third and Tromp reached second base.

Tromp has seven hits in the first two games of the series, four of which have gone for extra bases. Stankiewicz, on his 21st birthday, hit a dribbler back to the mound which Rocha fielded cleanly, but failed to make a good throw allowing Sandberg to score.

“For me I like contact plays with second and third,” Williams said. “Cord was going to stay in a rundown there until Drew could get to second. So even if he’s out at home, you still have second and third again. And here at home with the thick grass, it’s a tough play, especially with Sandberg running. I like to be aggressive.”

The run backed up a brilliant performance from four Williamsport relievers who tossed six scoreless innings after starter Alejandro Arteaga allowed four runs in his five innings of work.

Elniery Garcia tossed a scoreless inning, leaving two runners stranded on base. Frank Rivas struck out three batters in his two innings. Joey DeNato worked two scoreless innings, and Keivi Rojas threw a scoreless 11th to earn his first win of the early season.

DeNato’s work was most impressive, especially in the 10th inning when he stranded a runner at third. The left-hander out of Indiana who was selected in the 19th round of this year’s draft, allowed a leadoff infield single to Vallejo, and then threw the ball into foul ground on a pickoff attempt to allow Vallejo to get to third.

But DeNato struck out leadoff hitter Carl Anderson looking on a 1-2 fastball for the first out. He induced a ground ball right at Hoskins who froze the runner at third for the second out. He then fielded a comebacker and threw to first for the final out of the inning to keep the game tied at 4-4.

“He picked the defense up. He gutted it out,” Hoskins said. “He kept clawing back and found a way to get it done.”

“That was awesome. Man on third, nobody out, he was just pitching,” Williams said. “He had confidence and he was just a bulldog out there. He likes that tight game there. He kind of feeds off that and he showed it tonight, for sure.”