The Pulaski Yankees lost game three, and their first series of the year on Sunday night at Calfee Park to the Danville Braves 8-5 in extra innings.
For the second straight night the Braves jumped on top early. Last night, they scored two runs in the top of the first with a home run and doubled that output tonight as Willie Carter hit a grand slam to right-center field on the first pitch that he saw from Yankees starter, Leonardo Pestana.
The Yankees scored one run in the bottom of the third inning when Ryder Green scored Chad Bell from third base. Neither team scored again until the bottom of the seventh inning when Madison Santos hit his first home run of the season to straight away center field to bring the Yankees within one run at 4-3.
After the tough first inning where Pestana gave up three hits and the four runs he pitched well over his remaining 4 innings for the Yankees. He gave up just one hit and no runs while striking out seven Danville batters and kept the Braves from extending their lead.
Sean Boyle delivered another solid performance out of the bullpen tonight when he relived Pestana in the top of the fifth. In his third appearance of the season, Boyle went 2.1 innings and didn’t allow a hit. Boyle has now pitched a total of seven innings this season and has given up one hit and one run. His ERA dropped from 1.93 to 1.29 and is allowing opposing batters to hit just .045.
Mitch Spence replaced Boyle in the Braves half of the ninth inning and didn’t give up a hit to any of the first six batters he faced.
The Yankees entered the bottom of the ninth down by just one run. Santos earned a one out walk and stole second base to put himself in scoring position with just one out. Robert Javier came through clutch again at the plate for the second time in as many days. He hit a ball to left-center field and scored Santos easily from second and hustled out of the batters box from the jump and put himself in position to be the game winning run with a double. Bell flew out right field but deep enough to advance Javier to third and just 90 feet away from the being the game winning run.
Oliver Dunn pinch hit for Gabriel Mora and hit what almost all 2,889 people in attendance thought would be the game winning win just to have the Braves second baseman make a tough play moving toward left field to rob Dunn of a hit and the Yankees chance to win with a ninth inning walk-off.
In a rule that is aimed to maintain the longevity of minor league pitchers, the Danville Braves started the top of the 10th inning with a runner on second base. A lead-off single moved the runner to third and a perfectly placed bunt gave the Braves a bases loaded opportunity in the extra frame. Spence gave up a walk to score the runner from third before being replaced by Jackson Bertsch. Bertsch gave up back-to-back singles to extend the Braves lead 8-4 in the top of the 10th.
The Yankees showed no quit however and Anthony Volpe singled to left field to score Campero from third who entered the game during extra innings at second base when he was Dunn’s defensive replacement. Volpe moved up to second base on a fielder error by the Braves left fielder when he let the ball sneak under his glove. Another single from Roberto Chirinos gave the Yankees runners on the corner and sent what would be the game tying run to the plate in Ryder Green. Unfortunately, Green and the other Yankees could not deliver another comeback win and the Yankees dropped their first series of the year 8-5 in game three.
The Yankees close out their seven-game home stand with a series against the Elizabethton Twins starting tonight. The theme of the series is Stars and Stripes and starts with military appreciation night. All active and retired military personnel are invited to the ballpark to catch the game and will receive a voucher for a free hot dog, bag of chips and a fountain drink. As always, gates will open at 4 p.m. with first pitch scheduled for 6:30.
By CORY HILBORNE, Pulaski Yankees