Burlington, N.C. – The Yankees dropped their second extra innings game of the season Friday night as they lost to the Burlington Royals 7-6. The Yankees blew a three run lead in the ninth and ultimately fell in extra innings to the Royals.
Burlington jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning thanks to a single and a couple of mistakes by Pulaski. The Royals first base runner of the night reached on an error and then advanced to second after a single by the second batter. A balk was called on Yankees starting pitcher, Jhonatan Munoz to give the Royals two runners in scoring position with no outs. Back-to-back groundouts allowed runs to score and the Yankees found themselves in an early deficit.
Pulaski finally got on the scoreboard in the top of the fifth inning when Spencer Henson sent his team leading fourth home run over the left field wall to cut the Burlington lead in half. Roberto Chirinos singled with two outs before Anthony Volpe hit a triple to right-center field and allowed Chirinos to score and tied the game at 2-2. The Yankees took their first lead of the night when Volpe scored off an error by Royals first baseman Vinnie Pasquantino.
The 3-2 lead would last all the way to the top of the eighth inning for the Yankees when they were able to capitalize on another Burlington error to get Ryder Green on the bases. Another walk by Saul Torres gave the Yankees runners on first and second. After a bunt from Madison Santos advanced the runners’ one base, the Royals had first base empty and decided to intentionally walk Chad Bell to give them a force out at any base to try and limit any damage the Yankees could do. That plan backfired after giving up two straight bases loaded walks that put the Yankees up 5-2 heading to the bottom of the eighth inning.
Hayden Wesneski came in to pitch the bottom of the eighth inning for the Yankees and did a tremendous job as he struck out the side to send the Yankees to the ninth inning with a three run lead and one of the best pitching staffs in the league. Wesneski returned to the mound in the bottom of the ninth inning still up by three runs and that’s when things unraveled.
Wesneski hit the leadoff batter before getting a ground ball to force the runner out at second base. A single from the third batter of the inning gave the Royals two on with just one out. Wesneski then got a fly out to put the Royals down to their last out of the game. Pasquantino then hit a double to left-center field to score two runs and give the Royals the tying run at second base with two outs. The Royals used a pinch runner that then scored from second base after a single to right field and tie the game up at five runs a piece and sent the game to extra innings. Wesneski’s blown save marked the second time in as many games that the Yankees couldn’t hold onto a late inning lead.
In the top half of the 10th inning the Yankees looked as though they would take a lead as they forced bases loaded situation with just one out. A strikeout and a lineout ended the Yankees threat and placed the Royals in prime position to win the game in the bottom of the 10th. Elvis Peguero replaced Wesneski in the bottom of the 10th and struggled to get the ball over the plate. After earning a strikeout of the first batter he faced, Peguero threw a wild pitch that allowed the runner to advance from second to third with just one out. The Royals then flew out to right field for the second out of the inning. Peguero and the Yankees coaching staff then intentionally walked the next batter to give them a force out opportunity to end the 10th. A defensive interference allowed the runner to advance to second to spoil that plan for Pulaski. All worked out in the 10th inning as Peguero and the Yankees did get that last third out via a ground ball to Chirinos at second base.
The Yankees took an extra innings lead in the top of the 11th inning after Robert Javier stole third base and then advanced to score after a throwing error on the Burlington catcher allowed him to advance the last 90 feet to score. The Royals escaped the 11th giving up just one run and that proved to be the difference in the game.
The Royals’ half of the 11th inning started out similar to the 10th. Elvis Peguero threw a wild pitch that allowed the tying run to advance from second to third with no outs. The tying run scored the very next batter after a single through the hole at second base. Another wild pitch moved the winning run into scoring position with no outs. The winning run then advanced to third base on a bunt down the third base line. A hit by pitch loaded the bases for the Royals with no outs. Peguero got the first out of the inning with a strikeout and was just a ground ball away from getting out of the jam. The Royals had other plans though and would walk the game off with a single to right field to score Massey from third and end the game.
The Yankees are now 0-2 in extra inning games this season but still have a chance to win the series against Burlington tomorrow as they face off in the series rubber match. The Yankees are expected to send Leonardo Pestana to the mound tomorrow to try and give the Yankees their fourth series win this season. Pestana has yet to earn a decision in two games pitched but holds an 8.00 ERA in 9.0 IP but has struck out 15 batters and given up just five hits.