Princeton Stops Astros Streak As 2009 Season Winds Down
|Published: 10:00 AM, 08/31/2009||Last updated: 8:35 AM, 09/01/2009|
BY STEVE WILHOIT
A four-game winning streak brought renewed hope for a strong final homestand by the Greeneville Astros. At least for one night, Princeton didn't allow that to happen by collecting a solid victory on Sunday.
The visiting Rays broke away from a fifth-inning tie with five runs en route to a 7-3 win over Greeneville at Pioneer Park. The game drew the largest Sunday crowd of the season as 1,915 fans turned out for "Faith Night" at the stadium.
Princeton improves to 35-30 for the year while the Astros drop to 26-39. The Rays actually clinched second place in the Appalachian League's Eastern Division before the game went final by virtue of an earlier Bluefield loss to Burlington. Greeneville continues to cling to a half-game advantage for fourth in the West, thanks to Bristol's defeat at the hands of Elizabethton.
The match-up was a well-played one as both teams were errorless on the night.
Princeton pounded a pair of two-run homers in the decisive fifth inning to gain a grasp on the outcome, by Alejandro Torres and Ryan Wiegand. Another key in the Rays' victory was strong middle relief by Deivis Mavarez (5-1). Mavarez worked four scoreless innings while allowing just two base hits.
Greeneville's Luis Cruz (1-4) was sharp through four before hitting a wall and not surviving the fifth inning. Cruz was tagged for eight hits and seven earned runs.
Giovanni Mier blasted his team-leading seventh home run of the season for the Astros. Kyle Miller clubbed a pair of doubles for the home team and Grant Hogue added a double and single.
The Rays grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning as Wiegand, the All-Appy League first baseman, doubled and scored on a Josh Patton single.. It was the 19th two-bagger of the year for Wiegand, a Gonzaga product who entered play ninth in the league in hitting with a .322 average.
The advantage was short-lived as Miller swatted his first double of the night in the bottom of the frame and scored on a two-out scratch hit by Carlos Mojica to make it 1-1.
The Astros managed their only lead of the game in the third when Mier launched a soaring no-doubt homer to left, making it a 2-1 contest. The RBI also gave Mier the team-lead in that department with 27.
Greeneville then put two runners in scoring position with just one away. Aaron Bray's hot-hitting continued with a single, the first of his two hits on the evening. After a Nathan Metroka double, the host club lost the lead man on a rundown between third and home on an infield grounder to diffuse the rally.
Princeton tied the score in the top of the fourth, 2-2. Brian Bryles legged out an infield hit and scored on a two-out double from Julio Cedeno. Sandwiched in between was a brilliant defensive play at shortstop as Mier robbed Wiegand with a strong throw on a ball deep in the hole.
Princeton's manager Jared Sandberg (nephew of Tennessee Smokies' manager and Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg) pulled his starting pitcher Omar Bencomo to start the last of the fourth in favor of the submarine righty, Mavarez.
The game's overall scenario changed drastically in the fifth inning. With one out, Seth Henry was hit with a pitch and Torres followed with a screaming liner which cleared the left-field fence. It was the first four-bagger of the season for Torres. After a Bryles double, Wiegand chased Cruz with a long homer to right-center field, his fourth of the campaign.
Jeiler Castillo was summoned to the mound for Greeneville and was effective in not allowing a run in 3 1/3 innings of work..
The Astros had one golden opportunity to get back into the game in the sixth but came up empty. Mavarez briefly lost control of the strike zone by walking the first three hitters but quickly regained it with a strikeout and double-play grounder to snuff out the threat.
Greeneville did manage a solo tally in the eighth against Scott Schuman. Miller doubled, moved up on a wild pitch, and crossed the plate on a Mojica grounder for the 7-3 final margin.
The second game of the series is set for 7 p.m. today with a stadium blanket giveaway on the promotional schedule.
*Saturday night at Burlington, the Astros won a doubleheader over the Royals, winning 5-2 in the completion of a suspended game from Friday, then blanking the Royals 2-0 in the regularly scheduled game.
Jose Cisnero (4-2) pitched the first six innings of the nightcap, allowing only three base runners. The only hit of the game for Burlington came on a one-out single off Abraham Gonzalez in the seventh.
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