After dropping the first game of the 2018 season, the Danville Braves took Legion Field Wednesday night in game two of the three-game set with the Pulaski Yankees looking to even up the series.
The game went from normal to weird and then to just bizarre. In the end, the Braves got a walk-off single by Brett Langehorne to earn a 6-5 win in 11 innings.
“I am nothing but proud of the guys tonight,” said Braves Manager Barrett Kleinknecht after the first managerial win of his career.
Henry Quintero started the bottom of the 11th at second base due to a new Minor League Baseball extra innings rule. The teams start each extra inning with a runner on second base. That runner is, by rule, the player that made the last out in the previous inning. Marcos Almonte led off by dropping down a bunt, but the throw was late to third, putting the winning run 90 feet away for the Braves. Langehorne chopped a single between third and shortstop and Quintero scampered home to secure the team's first win of the season.
“This is a special group,” Kleinknecht said.
Things got a little interesting in the top of the eighth inning. The Braves brought Jacob Belinda to pitch, but before he could finish his warm up pitchers, he was taken out for Tanner Lawson.
Carlos Tatis singled and went to third on a double by Nelson Gomez with just one away in the inning. Lawson was called for a balk, a call that (Manager) was not a fan of, and that allowed Tatis to score and cut the lead to 4-3. After a groundout, Evan Alexander singled home the tying run.
Kleinknecht admitted after the game that he had to pull Belinda because of a mistake on the lineup card, but he was pleased with how the team battled to help out their rookie manager.
“The guys really backed me up tonight,” Kleinknecht said. “There was a little snafu with the lineup and the guys stepped up.”
After things got odd in the eighth inning, things may have gotten even odder in the top of the ninth. After losing Belinda, the Braves turned to Tuesday’s starting shortstop Luis Mejia to pitch in a 4-4 game. Mejia spent some time earlier in the game coaching first base before being called on to warm up in the bullpen.
Mejia walked the first two Yankees he saw, but turned around and got the next batter on a pop out to second base and then struck out the No. 3 and 4 hitters in the lineup to get out of the jam.
“The position players, they said, ‘give me the ball,’” Kleinknecht said.
It was the first look at the new Minor League Baseball rules with each team beginning the inning with the last out from the previous inning starting at second base.
It worked for the Yankees, as Carlos Narvaez doubled home Daniel Barrios who was the runner to start the 10th inning on second base to take a 5-4 lead. The Braves sent Nicholas Shumpert to second base to start the bottom half of the inning and the top of the Danville order got its chance to tie or win the game and took advantage as well. Andrew Moritz singled up the middle and scored Shumpert to tie it at 5-5
Carlos Baerga, Jr. entered the game in relief, an outfielder, to pitch in the 10th inning after Mejia worked the ninth. He surrendered the run in the 10th inning, but came back in the 11th inning and closed the door in order.
“I made a little mistake tonight, but the guys picked me up. They guys were battling,” Kleinknecht said. “This is a feeling I’ve never felt as a manger, guys really rallying around each other.”
The Yankees got off to a good start, scoring a pair of first-inning runs to get a 2-0 lead. Braves starting pitcher Matt Rowland calmed things down after the first inning and gave his team a chance to come back to eventually tie the game in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Rowland made his first appearance since being drafted by the Braves in the 11th round back in 2016. Rowland had Tommy John surgery that season and Wednesday was his first game action. Rowland’s first start lasted four innings, allowing two earned runs on two hits, no walks and he struck out two. After allowing two singles and hitting a batter to start the game, which led both Yankee runs to score, Rowland retired the next 12 batters he saw to finish his debut.
“Kudos to the kid,” Kleinknecht said. “He has worked his tail off to get here and that’s the best we’ve seen him throw.”
The Braves got back into the game in the bottom of the fourth inning. Andrew Moritz and Greyson Jenista led the inning off with walks. Henry Quintero moved Moritz to third on fly out to center field and then a wild pitch allowed Moritz to score. After another fly out moved Jenista to third, Brett Langehorne tripled down the left field line to tie the game at 2-2.
In the bottom of the sixth, Jenista collected his first career hit to lead off and came around to score when Quintero tripled to give Danville its first lead of the season. Marcos Almonte, in his first appearance of the season, added to the lead with a single to left field.
“The first inning we hit two missiles with Moritz and Jenista and I looked at our field coordinator and said this was going to be a good night,” Kleinknecht said.
Tanner Allison entered the game for the Braves in the fifth inning to pitch and he worked three shutout innings. Allison allowed three hits, walked one and struck out five.
Danville 6, Pulaski 5, 11 innings
P – 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 1 0 – 5 10 0
D – 0 0 0 2 0 2 0 0 0 1 1 – 6 9 2
W. Caceras 5IP, 3H, 2ER, 2BB, 2K
G. Troya 2IP, 3H, 2ER, 1BB, 1K
R. Marinaccio 3IP, 2H, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, 6K
B. Morales (LP, 0-1) 0IP, 1H, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, 0K
M. Rowland 4IP, 2H, 2ER, 0BB, 2K
T. Allison 3IP, 3H, 0R, 1BB, 5K
T. Lawson IP, 3H, 2ER, 0BB, 1K
L. Mejia IP, 1H, 0R, 1BB, 2K
C. Baerga, Jr. (WP, 1-0) 2IP, 1H, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, 2K
R. Javier 2-6, run scored; E. Duran 0-5, run scored; E. Pereira 2-6, RBI; D. Barrios 0-0, run scored; N. Gomez 1-5, RBI, run scored; C. Narvaez 1-5, RBI; E. Alexander 3-5, RBI; D. Metzgar 0-4, walk; T. Robertson 0-3, walk; J. De Leon 0-1
J. Dean 1-5; A. Moritz 1-4, RBI, run scored; G. Jenista 2-4, 2 runs scored; H. Quintero 1-5, 2 runs scored, RBI; M. Almonte 2-4, RBI; B. Langehorne 2-5, 2RBI; Z. Soria 0-3, walk; G. Benson 0-4; N. Shumpert 0-4, run scored