Iggy Suarez delivered a run-scoring single to left field with one out in the bottom of the tenth to cap a late game rally from a four-run deficit and give the Sugar Land Skeeters a 6-5 win over the Camden Riversharks on Saturday night at Constellation Field.
The win, combined with a pair of losses in a doubleheader by the Lancaster Barnstormers to the York Revolution, put Sugar Land (38-48, 9-7) in first place of the second-half Freedom Division standings.
For much of the game, it appeared the night would end in frustration, as the Skeeters were held to a single run – on a second-inning solo home run by Josh Pressley – through the first seven innings of the game. Camden starting pitcher Eddy Camacho and reliever Leo Rosales combined to hold the Skeeters to six hits through those seven at-bats.
At the same time, the Riversharks lineup was taking advantage of a makeshift mound arrangement for the Skeeters made necessary by the departure of Bobby Livingston on Friday for the Chinese Professional Baseball League.
Kelvin Villa, who was tabbed to start by manager Gary Gaetti, fared well enough to keep Camden at bay for the first four innings. Villa allowed no runs on three hits with four strikeouts.
But the relievers that followed struggled and Sugar Land would quickly give up the one-run lead.
Sean Morgan followed Villa to the mound in the fifth, but allowed a solo home run by Paddy Matera and an RBI single by Eduardo Perez that gave the Riversharks a 2-1 lead. Morgan lasted just one-third of an inning.
Jeff Farnsworth relieved Morgan and allowed a pair of seventh-inning runs and Garrett Parcell allowed a solo home run to Jake Eigsti in the eighth to extend the Riversharks’ lead to 5-1.
But the Skeeters were the beneficiaries of a meltdown by a pair of Camden relievers, Josh Walter and Zach Hammes, and rallied to tie in their half of the eighth.
Octavio Martinez led off the inning with a single, Dominic Ramos was hit by a pitch from Walter and Ofilio Castro reached on an error to load the bases.
Bubba Bell doubled to scored Martinez and Ramos and cut the lead to 5-3 and chase Walter from the game before he could record an out.
Hammes replaced Walter, but walked three consecutive batters – Jason Lane, Pressley and Aaron Bates – to bring home the tying run.
Neither team could push across a ninth-inning run and it appeared that the game would remain tied after ten innings before the Skeeters got a big two-out hit in the bottom of the tenth.
Bates’ two-out drive to left-center field eluded the Riversharks’ outfielders long enough allow him to reach third with his first triple as a member of the Skeeters and just his seventh three-base hit as a professional.
Steve Moss was then intentionally walked to bring Suarez to the plate.
Suarez, who entered the game with a .216 batting average and 19 RBI in 60 games, took a strike and then delivered the game-winning hit past Perez in left field.
The hit made a winner of Gary Majewski (4-2) who worked two scoreless innings to preserve the tie until the bottom of the tenth inning.
The victory was the fourth in seven extra-inning games on the season for Sugar Land and also gave them their eleventh one-run win in 28 games decided by that margin.
The Skeeters and Camden Riversharks wrap up the four-game set on Sunday. Heath Phillips (1-6, 4.45 ERA) is slated to start for Sugar Land against Keith Weiser (4-5, 4.48) of Camden. The game is scheduled for a 6:05 p.m. CDT start.
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