Renegades rally from 3-run deficit to top Cutters

IOANNIS PASHAKIS/ Sun-Gazette Hudson Valley’s Erik Osterberg swings at a ball delivered by the Williamsport Crosscutters’ Jack Perkins on Saturday night during a game at Bowman Field.

Ball in hand, Abdallah Aris began walking away from home plate. Nobody had called time after Michael Smith’s bunt was fielded and thrown to first base by Williamsport catcher Rafael Marchan.

Aris walked away from the plate, focusing on his next pitch, before Marchan returned. Hudson Valley’s Justin Bridgman seized the opportunity, breaking for the plate and beating any Crosscutters there for the first of two seventh-inning runs on the board Saturday night at Bowman Field.

That run proved to be the game-winner for the Renegades as they scored six consecutive runs after Williamsport took a three-run lead. Hudson Valley won the second of the three-game series last night, 6-4, stranding a pair of Cutters on base in the ninth inning to quell the comeback.

Williamsport lost for the 18th time in 26 July games and fell to 3-11 at Bowman Field in the month. And for the second night in a row, Williamsport broke out to an early lead only to see the offense fall silent for a majority of the game afterward.

“These kids are remarkable. I’m shocked at how they don’t quit and don’t give up,” Crosscutters manager Pat Borders said after the team brought the winning run to the plate in the ninth inning. “I think they grind. They just haven’t had a real break to get us over the hump sometimes.”

Williamsport carried a 3-0 lead into the top of the sixth inning as Robinson Martinez started his second inning of relief. He appeared poised for another scoreless frame after back-to-back strikeouts put two outs on the scoreboard with only one runner on base. But a single and a walk all of a sudden loaded the bases.

Hudson Valley’s Jacson McGowan then put the barrel on a 1-2 slider and drove it over the head of Williamsport center fielder Keudy Bocio. Bocio got turned around as the wind pushed the ball toward right field. Three runs easily scored to tie the game and Martinez was relieved by Aris.

Aris induced a slow roller up the first-base line but fanned on picking up the ball and shoveling it to first in one motion allowing McGowan to score. In a matter of four pitches Williamsport went from leading by three to trailing by one.

To complicate matters, the Cutters were in the midst of a stretch where it produced just two baserunners in a five-inning stretch, both of which were stranded at second base.

“That ball they hit to center field, it was not a bad pitch,” Borders said. “It was a slider down and away that was probably a ball. But he one-armed it and stayed through it. You hate to tip your hat, but he did his job and drove it over his head.”

An inning later, Bridgman stole a run as nobody called timeout after Marchan’s throw to first base pulled Edwin Rodriguez off the bag. Two batters later, Tanner Dodson singled to drive in Smith to give Hudson Valley a 6-3 lead.

“Marchan makes that play and the momentum carries him up the baseline. Then the pitcher has the ball and he started focusing on the next pitch and forgot Marchan wasn’t back at the plate yet,” Borders said. “It’s a fast game when you get under the lights and you can get frazzled. This particular time I think the guy got focused too much on the next pitch instead of thinking we got to hang here for another couple seconds.”

Just like it did Friday night in the series opener, Williamsport picked up a lead in the second inning. Madison Stokes was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning before Edwin Rodriguez singled and Matt Kroon laid down a pretty bunt single. Seth Lancaster came up with a crucial two-run single. It was Lancaster’s first multi-RBI game since June 18.

Bocio beat out a double play ball to drive in Kroon and give Williamsport a 3-0 lead in the second inning.

“They strung some hits together on that first pitcher, and I thought he was pretty good,” Borders said. “I was very happy to get any runs off of him because he looked like he was tough to hit.”

But like Friday, that’s where the offense stopped for the most part. Williamsport was 3 for 13 with runners in scoring position last night, but two of those hits came in the three-run, second-inning outburst. The only other hit with runners in scoring position was Ben Aklinski’s RBI single with to outs in the ninth inning.

The Cutters were retired in order in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. When Jonathan Guzman and Marchan had back-to-back one-out singles in the eighth inning, Stokes and Rodriguez struck out on seven pitches in consecutive at-bats to end the threat.

“They’re not giving at-bats away,” Borders said. “I commented to someone the other day that it would be easy for them to do that at times because of the length of the season some of them have gone through, but they don’t. They have a level of intensity that’s as much as any team I’ve had.”