The Syracuse Spartans (17-12) beat the Syracuse Salt Cats (15-13) in an unconventional fashion for their seventh win in their last ten games. Pinch hitter Rob Ballinger came up in the bottom of the tenth with the bases loaded and took four pitches to advance to first base, and score the winning run from third.
The name of the game for the Spartans was patience at the plate, as they drew nine walks off of the Salt Cats pitching staff.
“It definitely kept us in the ball game for as long we were in it,” Head Spartan Coach James Williamson said. “We put together some really good at bats, some timely hitting. It really showed our discipline at the plate.”
The three hour and thirteen-minute affair featured ten different pitchers across both ball clubs.
Matt Walczak got the start for the Spartans. He went six innings, allowing two runs on six hits while striking out two batters.
The Salt Cats took the early lead in the top of the fourth, but the Spartans took it right back in the bottom half of the frame. An RBI single from center fielder Cyrus Senior scored left fielder Micah Reddick tied the ball game. A double steal by Senior and catcher Nick Cardieri had the Spartans up 2-1 after four.
The other Syracuse squad evened the score at two a piece in the top of the fifth inning. The drama really began in the top of the eighth inning, when Spartan pitcher Rich Marshall inherited the bases loaded with nobody gone.
After a force out at the plate on a stellar play by All-Star short stop Jack Paulson and a popout, the Salt Cats grabbed a 3-2 lead on a wild pitch from Marshall.
The bottom of the eighth was the payoff inning for the Spartans, as third baseman Hunter Tralli smacked a double into deep left-center field, scoring Reddick on a tough play at the plate. Reddick was called safe, while a few Salt Cats did not like the call. Nevertheless, the Spartans headed into extra innings.
And it was in the bottom of the tenth inning when Ballinger drew his game-winning walk, ending Syracuse’s two-game losing streak.
SPARTAN OF THE GAME: Rob Ballinger
Ballinger had one at bat in this game and made it count, as he drew a two out walk in the bottom of the tenth inning with the bases loaded to win the game. Ballinger recorded his 13th RBI of the season on his walk to first base.
The Spartans continue their schedule as they head to Olean tomorrow night to take on the Oilers. The first pitch is set for 7:00.