Derek Gardella's two-out double in the bottom of the ninth inning gives the Suns a walkoff win
PITTSFIELD -- It was exactly what Tom Conley hoped for.
Pinch hitter Derek Gardella, knocking a shot to deep left with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. A sprinting Brenden Geary coming home to a mob of Pittsfield teammates.
And the Suns celebrating a second straight victory.
"I just did what they told me to do and got a hit," Gardella said. "I was just like, ‘Hopefully they're not catching this one.' I saw it in the gap and I was just like ‘Thank God. Thank the Lord.' "
The pinch hitter's RBI double capped off a 3-2, come-from-behind victory over Torrington for the Suns that had Conley, the team's manager, grinning outside the Wahconah Park dugout. It gives Pittsfield (16-18) two wins in a row with a trip to league leader Martha's Vineyard looming today.
Maybe this team has finally gotten its spark.
"We had won. I knew right when it was hit," Conley said. "I knew no one was going to catch it. I knew it was enough to score [Geary] on a 3-2 count. Brenden was off on the pitch. I knew it was going to win it for us."
Geary had reached first on a walk with two outs when Gardella came in to hit for Luke Reynolds. The 5-foot-10, 225-pound catcher seemed to have his work cut out for him against Titans reliever Connor Landers, who had an ERA under 1 in 182 3 innings coming into Friday.
Gardella worked a 3-2 count before launching the game-winner to left.
"A guy with a 0.96 ERA gave up a run," said Torrington manager Misha Dworken. "... We played good baseball. We always play good baseball. We don't really get beat but [lose] 3-2, 4-5, you know, 5-3. We got to figure out a way to win. Our offense has to do a lot better job."
The Titans (13-21) struck first on Friday, scoring Jake McGuiggan on a bases-loaded chopper by Casey Jones. Geary fielded the ball at first, looking home, then to second and finally to first, but no one was covering the bag. A bases-loaded walk issued by Pittsfield starter Christian Lavoie scored the second run.
But Pittsfield avoided major damage when John Kinne snagged another bases-loaded grounder from Brian Fay, stepping on second before throwing to first to complete the double play.
"It was kind of hectic," Geary said. "Christian was throwing a good game. He had a tough inning. Miscommunication. It was tough to turn two, looked to go one and he wasn't covering. But he came out of it."
Geary ended any moping, launching a solo home run to lead off the bottom half of the inning. The Suns tied it in the sixth when Frank Crinella led off with a double and came home on back-to-back sacrifice flies.
Lavoie left after 52 3, striking out three and allowing the two runs off five hits. Torrington's Chris Hatfield was similarly superb, giving up five hits, two runs and striking out two in seven innings of work.
It was the Suns, though, who found a way to win when it mattered most.
"It's really good for the guys," Conley said. "It's always fun to win, especially this way. Hopefully we can keep it going. We still haven't got that three-game winning streak going."
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