There was electricity in the air at Binghamton’s NYSEG Stadium Sunday afternoon with a bigger than usual crowd and two testy minor league teams acting like it was the final week of the season in late August rather than Memorial Day Weekend. When the dust had cleared, Portland Manager Kevin Boles had been tossed, a potential mini skirmish had been averted, and the B-Mets came from behind earning a walk-off, 6-5, win to sweep the Sea Dogs and earn a share of first place.
A contest that had all the trappings of a pitching duel turned into a see-saw affair down the stretch with both teams squandering leads before the B-Mets secured the victory.
B-Met starting pitcher Jacob deGrom matched wits with Portland ace, Brandon Workman (5-1) in the early going. After a shaky opening inning, DeGrom settled down to turn in an impressive six innings of work. It was ‘Kibbles and Bits’ all afternoon for the B-Met pitcher who was not hit hard but was nibbled and nicked for 8 hits and 2 runs during the outing.
DeGrom was in trouble immediately allowing the first four batters of the game to reach base. Sea Dog centerfielder Shannon Wilkerson led off the game with a single to right. The Red Sox’s top prospect Xander Bogaerts worked a walk with Tony Thomas and Michael Almanzar following with basehits, Almanzar’s single plating the games first run.
With the bases filled an nobody out, DeGrom used off speed pitchers to escape further damage striking out Travis Shaw and Matt Spring swingings before getting Kolbrin Vitek on a pop out to second. The back-to-back strikeouts were the first of nine DeGrom would record on the afternoon against only two walks.
The B-Mets could get little going offensively against Workman. The tall Portland righthander fired a fastball that reached 95 mph and flashed a nasty curveball. Allan Dykstra did lead off the 4th with a towering double to right centerfield. Dykstra tagged and advanced to third when Cory Vaugh sent a drive to the wall near the right field foul pole, but failed to tag on a Darrell Ceciliani’s mid-range fly to right.
A botched DeGrom pick-off attempt cost the B-Met pitcher his second run in the fifth. Sea Dog rightfielder Matty Johnson led off the inning with an infield single but was erased trying to steal by B-Met catcher Blake Forsythe, the first of two runners Forsythe would gun down at second. Wilkerson singled and advanced into scoring position when Bogaerts drew his second walk of the day. DeGrom fanned Thomas for the second out and had an 0-2 count on Almanzar, when first baseman Allan Dykstra tried to sneak behind Bogaerts drawing a pick-off attempt. The throw went over Dykstra’s head and into the crowd, allowing Wilkerson to score from second.
Binghamton tied the game in the bottom of the fifth. Leftfielder Joe Bonte timed a Workman curve hitting it to left field for a single. Wilfredo Tovar followed with a single to right that was misplayed by Johnson allowing Bonte and Tovar to advance into scoring position. RBI groundouts by Daniel Muno and Josh Rodriguez plated both runners.
A three-up and three down sixth inning ended DeGrom’s day with 98 pitches. DeGrom had Sea Dog batters missing pitches for much of the day.
Here’s his pitching stats: 6.0 IP, 8 H, 2 BB, 2 R, 1 ER, 9 K
Total Pitches: 98 Strikes: 65 (66%) Balls: 33 (34%)
Full Windup: Total Pitches: 49 Strikes: 36 (72%) Balls: 13 (28%)
Fastball: Total Pitches: 34 Strikes: 25 (74%) Balls: 9 (26%)
Curveballs: Total Pitches: 10 Strikes: 6 (60%) Balls: 4 (40%)
ChangeUps: Total Pitches: 6 Strikes: 5 (83%) Balls: 1 (17%)
Sliders: Total Pitches: 1 Strikes: 1 (100%)
Stretch: Total Pitches: 49 Strikes: 30 (61%) Balls: 19 (39%)
Fastballs: Total Pitches: 25 Strikes: 15 (60%) Balls: 10 (40%)
Curveballs: Total Pitches: 12 Strikes: 7 (58%) Balls: 5 (42%)
Sliders: Total Pitches: 2 Strikes: 1 (50% ) Balls: 1 (50%)
Called: 17 (26%)
Fouled: 17 (26%)
Missed: 17 (26%)
In Play: 14 (22%)
Fast Ball Range: 88-94 MPH
Allan Dykstra blasted a towering fly ball into the stratosphere for a homerun leading off the 6th giving Binghamton a 3-2 lead. The B-Mets added a run in the 7th when Josh Rodriquez worked a one our walk and scored all the way from first on a Dystra double off the wall in right-center.
B-Met reliever John Church coasted through the 7th, but the wheels came off the bus after Church fanned Thomas for the first out in the eighth. Almanzar worked a base-on-balls withTravis Shaw rapping a single, Matt Spring drilling and RBI double and Kolbrin Vitek and RBI single to tie the score at 4-4.
B-Met manager Pedro Lopez lifted Church in favor of Jeff Walters, but Heiker Meneses greeted the B-Met closer with an RBI single on Walters’s first pitch. Using an assist from catcher Blake Forsythe who threw out his second runner attempting to steal, Walters got out of the jam without further damage.
Binghamton scratched out a run to tie the game at 5-5 in the bottom of the eighth. Darrell Ceciliani led off with a double in the gap in left-center. The B-Met centerfielder advanced to third on Forsythe’s ground out to second and tagged and scored on Joe Bonfe’s sacrifice fly.
Walter’s turned up the heat in the ninth. With the leading run on second and two outs, Walter’s delivered a one-strike fastball that touched 96 mph. Not believing what my eyes were seeing when the scoreboard radar reading said 99 mph on Walter’s next pitch, I called for help from three guys sitting behind me. They validated the reading and Walters later struck out the batter with an 83 mph curve.
Josh Rodriguez led of the ninth smashing a sizzling line drive at the third baseman’s feet that caromed off Michael Almanzar’s glove and flew into the seats behind third base for a double. Rodriquez advanced to third when Cesar Puello grounded out to second base. But, Jeremy Kehrt got Dykstra swinging and fooled Cory Vaughn on two straight curveballs to go 0-2. The next pitch, designed to entice Vaughn to go fishing, was in the dirt and off the plate but skipped away from Sea Dog catcher Matt Spring allowing Rodriquez to score.
The B-Met sweep locks Binghamton (29-22) in a virtual tie with Portland for first place in Eastern Division.