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Pulaski, which answered every Greeneville run with a rally of its own, needs just one home win to claim the Appalachian League title.
Thursday, September 5, 2013
GREENEVILLE, Tenn. — One down. One to go?
We’ll see about that when the Pulaski Mariners entertain the Greeneville Astros tonight. The Mariners are in the driver’s seat in the best of three Appalachian League championship series after beating the home team 5-3 Wednesday night in front of 507 mostly disappointed customers at Pioneer Park. Now Pulaski has two chances at home to win one game and the series.
The Mariners got the job done behind two instant rallies after Greeneville had scored. Stout starting pitching from Jose Flores. Clutch hitting up and down the lineup, particularly from Toby DeMello. And by an eight-out save from lights out closer Carlos Misell.
Pulaski has now won all three of its postseason games. The Astros are 2-2 after a grueling three-game opening set with the Kingsport Mets.
The Mariners’ most recent triumph was nailed down when manager Chris Prieto gambled he could get an extended relief outing from Misell, who had just 5.2 innings worth of Appalachian League experience coming in.
“I told you it was time to go to him,” Prieto said to pitching coach Nasusel Cabrera back in the visitor’s clubhouse after it was over.
Misell, a Venezuelan right-hander who signed just this spring, now has two saves in as many postseason chances. He slammed the door in the closeout victory over the Bluefield Blue Jays on Sunday. His best work came against the Astros.
He struck out five of the nine batters he faced, including four out of the last five. He fanned the last four with a diabolical changeup set up by a mid-90s fastball.
“He was really good against a really good team,” Prieto said. “That’s a team that really controls the strike zone well. You’ve got to be able to throw strikes against these guys and he did.”
By the time Misell came to the rescue of hard-working Dylan DeMeyer (4 1⁄3 innings of relief the past two games) in the seventh, Pulaski had moved into a 5-3 lead. That was after Greeneville had tied the score 3-3 in the bottom of the sixth on cleanup batter Chase McDonald’s run-scoring single with no outs.
It was McDonald’s third RBI of the game, to go with the two he collected in the first inning off a bomb to left off Flores. It was McDonald’s eighth home run of the year. That made it 2-0, a lead Pulaski immediately answered with a run in the top of the third. DeMello did the honors with two out and Jesus Ugueto on second after a one-out walk from Astros starter Francis Ramirez.
“Ugueto was able to get to second on a ball in the dirt,” DeMello said. “I wanted to be aggressive and look for something out over the plate. I got a fastball I could handle and I tried to not do too much with it and went the other way.”
DeMello contributed an RBI sacrifice fly in the fourth when Pulaski scored two to take a 3-2 lead. The Mariners had the bases loaded with no out when Ramirez walked designated hitter Kristian Brito to tie the score 2-2. DeMello followed with a sacrifice to center, but things went haywire after the run scored when the Astros completed a wild triple play. They registered the final two outs of the sequence with elaborate rundowns of Ugueto and Brito.
“That was one unconventional triple play,” Prieto said.
Flores had settled down by that point and made it through five innings. After a leadoff walk in the second, he retired 11 in a row before walking No. 9 batter Brett Phillips with one out. Flores bounced back to get the next two batters before being given the rest of the night off.
In the Pulaski seventh, the Mariners again responded to a Greeneville run.
This time, Ugueto doubled, Brito singled, DeMello singled in Ugueto, then Aaron Barbosa’s two-out single plated DeMello for a two-run lead.
“We have a good mentality on this team,” said Barbosa, an undrafted free agent who has moved into the leadoff position late in the year. “We’re going to keep fighting no matter what the score is, what inning it is, or no matter how many runs we just gave up. That’s something everybody on this team has. It’s contagious.”
Pulaski 010 200 200 — 5 7 1
Greeneville 200 001 000 — 3 4 1
Flores, DeMeyer (6), Misell (7) and DeMello. Ramirez, Ferguson (6), E. Gonzalez (6), Connolly and A. Gonzalez. W — DeMeyer. L — E. Gonzalez. S — Misell. HR — McDonald (G), 1st, one on.
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