Blue Sox respond early and hang on to beat Royals
The Blue Sox stepped up when it mattered most to beat the Rochester Royals 8-7 in Marcusen Park Wednesday.
The first two Royals reached base in the top of the ninth with Austin clinging to an 8-7 lead, but Joe Huffman had the answer by striking out two straight hitters and Casey Toops sealed the game when he ran down and caught a pop fly in foul territory.
Huffman picked up the save by allowing just one unearned run in the last four innings after Nels Nelson got off to a tough start on the hill for the Blue Sox (15-6 overall, 1-0 Section 2B).
“It felt okay but it didn’t feel like it was popping. I got the job done somehow,” Huffman, who struck out four and allowed two hits, said. “This win kind of gets us going. We had a rough couple of games in the Spamtown tournament. But on Saturday night against the Pirates, we started talking about playing and having fun again.”
Rochester scored all seven of its runs with two outs and four of those runs came in the first inning when the Royals strung four singles together to go with two walks.
“I’m a competitor and that kind of stuff makes me mad and I want to go out there and jump start the team,” said Austin center fielder Nate Johnson.
Johnson, who finished three-for-four with two RBIs, got his squad going as he led off the game with a double and scored on a single by Craig Selk. Dan Swift singled in a run, Kyle Young doubled in a run off the right field wall and Josh Kunze hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game up at four after one inning.
The Blue Sox scored all the runs they needed in the bottom of the third when Andy Swank knocked in a run with a bloop-single, Casey Toops took a 3-2 ball to walk in a run, Steve Serratore grounded out to score a run and Johnson knocked in a run with a two-out single to make it 8-4.
Austin scored all eight of its runs off of Rochester’s lefty starter, who only lasted three innings.
“They tried to get a jump on us since we had seven lefties in the lineup,” Johnson said. “I feel like we made the adjustment and I feel confident against lefties with our team. He was throwing a lot of fast balls and we took advantage of that.”
Royals 4 0 0 2 0 1 0 0 0 — 7 9 1
Blue Sox 4 0 4 0 0 0 0 0 X — 8 12 2
Blue Sox pitching: Nels Nelson (W), 7 H, 3 BB, 6 ER, 8 K; Joe Huffman (S), 4 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 R, 4 K, 5 K, HBP
Blue Sox hitting: Nate Johnson, 3-for-4, double, 2 RBIs, R; Aaron Port, 1-for-4, R, BB; Craig Selk, 1-for-5, RBI, R; Dan Swift, 2-for-3, double, RBI, 2 R, BB; Kyle Young, 2-for-3, double, 2 R, BB; Andy Swank, 1-for-2, RBI, R, 2 BBs; Josh Kunze, 0-for-3, RBI, HBP; Casey Toops, 0-for-3, RBI, BB; Steve Serratore, 1-for-3, RBI; Darin Wagner, 1-for-1, double, R; Marty Dick, 0-for-1; Mark Harber, 0-for-1