07/01/2011 6:16 PM
WASHINGTON, Pa. - The Washington Wild Things, presented by Washington Financial, dropped the final game of their series with the River City Rascals by a final score of 10-7. In a game that had six lead changes, the Wild Things could not mount one last comeback to cap off an otherwise solid home stand.
The game was played under protest by the Wild Things after a balk call on a 3-2 pitch that hit batter Ryan Ditthardt in the eighth inning.
With the game tied at seven in the top of the ninth, relief pitcher Taylor Wulf walked the bases loaded with only one out. After a groundball to the shortstop retired the potential go-ahead run at the plate, it looked as if Washington might escape the River City scoring threat. However, an errant throw on a groundball back to the mound cleared the bases and put the Rascals back in front, 10-7.
Brandon Cunniff came on in relief and picked up the save after working a scoreless ninth inning. Aside from a one-out walk to Bryan Fogle, Cunniff kept the Wild Things from generating any type of scoring threat. Derrick Miramontes (4-0) picked up the victory, despite entering the game in the eighth inning and allowing two runs in his only inning of work.
Wulf (2-1) suffered his first loss of the season after allowing the three-run ninth inning.
The Wild Things jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the second inning. After Ryan Ditthardt hit a one-out double, Blake Ochoa and Ernie Banks drew back-to-back walks to load the bases. One batter later, Luis Rivera singled sharply to left field, plating Ditthardt and Ochoa and giving Washington a 2-0 lead.
The Wild Things advantage would be short-lived, however, as River City seized the lead in the top of the third. The Rascals loaded the bases with no outs when Joash Brodin singled in two runners to tie the game at two. All in all, River City sent nine men to the plate in the inning and took advantage of a Washington error to score four runs and take a 4-2 lead.
After a quick start, both offenses were silenced through the middle innings but came to life once both starting pitchers were out of the game.
Zach Robertson (4-0) started for River City and allowed only three Wild Things hits in the outing. He struggled with his control, though, walking five and throwing 111 pitches in his 6.1 innings of work. Despite surrendering only three hits and striking out six batters, Robertson gave up four runs (all earned).
Gary Lee (1-0) started on the mound for Washington and was in line for the loss when he left the game after six innings. However, the Wild Things offense came to life in the seventh after struggling in the middle portion of the game and got their starter off the hook.
Robertson walked Banks and Doug Thennis to start the seventh and was relieved by Kirkland Rivers after Luis Rivera popped out on a sacrifice bunt attempt. The first batter he faced was Scott Lawson, who promptly drove in Banks with a one-out single. Kevyn Feiner then plated Thennis with a sacrifice fly to knot the game at four and advanced to second on the throw home. Chris Sidick then came to the plate and hustled down the line for a two-out infield single. On the same play, Lawson showed off some hustle of his own as he scored all the way from second to give the Wild Things the 5-4 advantage.
In keeping with the trend of the game, River City came right back in the top of the eighth inning. Brodin homered off reliever Ross Gusky to leadoff the inning and tie the score at 5. Kevin Hammons relieved Gusky after the first out of the inning but was unable to keep the Rascals off the scoreboard. River City used three hits and a sacrifice fly to score two more runs and take the lead back, 7-5.
Not to be outdone by their opponents, Washington mounted another comeback in the bottom of the eighth. Bryan Fogle and Ditthardt walked to lead off the inning but Fogle was retired at third on sacrifice bunt attempt by Ochoa. With runners on first and second, Banks stepped up and delivered an RBI single, scoring Ditthardt and trimming Washington the deficit to just a run. Two batters later, Rivera came through with his second big hit of the night; this one a single down the right field line which scored pinch runner Drew Rossi and tied the game at seven heading into the ninth.
Lawson and Rivera both went 2-for-4 at the plate and drove in a combined four runs. Sidick, Ditthardt and Banks had the other Washington hits in the game.
The Wild Things begin a six game road trip tomorrow night when they travel to Illinois to take on the Gateway Grizzlies. Game time is 7:05 pm. Pregame coverage begins at 6:55 pm on WJPA 95.3. Washington returns home July 8 for a weekend series with Gateway at CONSOL Energy Park. To purchase tickets, log on to www.washingtonwildthings.com, call 724-250-9555, or stop by the CONSOL Energy Park Box Office.