After splitting the first two contests of this pivotal three-game series against the Altoona Curve, the Harrisburg Senators stood three outs away from losing the rubber match and an important win in the standings.
Down 3-2 the Senators’ playoff hopes would be far from over with a loss, however it would be a severe body blow to their chances as they chased the Curve in the standings for the final postseason spot. But this Harrisburg team has been resilient all season and Thursday night at FNB Field was no different.
Austin Davidson led off the ninth inning with a walk surrendered by Curve reliever Tate Scioneaux. Next up catcher Taylor Gushue laced a single into right field, and with Altoona’s outfielders playing deep Davidson was able to go first-to-third with a display of aggressive baserunning.
“It kind of surprised me just because he did hesitate a little bit,” manager Matt LeCroy said. “When he got over to third, he wanted to know how close it was. He knew they were playing for no doubles and he took a chance. He’s not the fastest runner, but he plays the game the right way.”
Zach Collier followed with a walk he worked to load the bases and move the go-ahead run up to second base. Dan Gamache was announced as a pinch-hitter and that’s when the slow drizzle turned into a raging, beating downpour and the umpires quickly called for the tarp. But just like that the storm’s power lessened and after a brief 10-minute rain delay action resumed.
Gamache squibbed a ball towards shortstop Cole Tucker whose only play was the fielder’s choice out at first scoring Davidson from third and tying the game up. Pinch-hitter Alec Keller was intentionally walked to re-load the bases and set the stage for Daniel Johnson.
Johnson played the part of hero as he ripped 1-0 offering over the center fielder’s head to score Gushue from third and set off the celebration.
“It just had to be there honestly,” Johnson said. “Bases loaded I wasn’t trying to do too much. If it was there, I was swinging.”
The win marks the fourth time this season the Senators have won after trailing entering the ninth inning.
“I’ve been really proud of the guys,” LeCroy said. “They’ve put themselves in a spot to play for something. In the minor leagues, that is all you can ask for…to play some meaningful baseball in August.”