Walk-off Win for Chiefs
Published on July 28, 2017
Story by Frank DeLuca
Photos by Kristin O’Grady
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Fireworks were scheduled for after the game, but Alejandro De Aza got them started early Thursday night at NBT Bank Stadium. .
De Aza’s three-run, walk-off home run in the ninth lifted the Syracuse Chiefs to a 5-4 win over the Louisville Bats.
“I was just trying to make good contact to at least score those two runs,”De Aza said. “If we tie the game, that way we’re still in the game.”
The bottom of the ninth began with a two-run deficit and catcher Neftali Soto at bat. Soto swung at the first pitch he saw from closer Jimmy Herger and putting it into the right center field gap for a leadoff double.
Left fielder Brandon Snyder drew a walk in the next at-bat to put runners on first and second as Spencer Kieboom stepped up to the plate. Kieboom had hit a home run in the second inning, but was instead trying to bunt this time to move the runners over. After a couple unsuccessful bunt attempts, Kieboom swung and missed at a high fastball and took a seat.
De Aza got himself into a great count early, going up three balls and no strikes. He then fouled the first pitch off to left before he saw a fastball where he wanted it, and parked it in right-center.
Kieboom gives Chiefs early lead
Kieboom, who couldn’t quite deliver in the ninth, kicked off the scoring for the day with a home run off Bats’ starter Amir Garrett for his second long ball of the season and a 1-0 Chiefs lead.
Chiefs’ starting pitcher Jaron Long managed two dominant innings, and even worked efficiently to start the third. But the top of the Bats’ lineup stepped up with two outs, as right fielder Jesse Winker singled to get on base before center fielder Phil Ervin drew a walk. First baseman Sebastian Elizalde singled home a run to even up the score at one.
The Chiefs wasted no time getting themselves back on top, and center fielder Zach Collier ripped a ball to right for his first home run of the year, a solo shot good for a 2-1 Syracuse lead.
Bats edge ahead
Both teams struggled through the fourth and fifth, and the score remained the same heading into the sixth. The Bats took advantage of Long, and Elizalde smacked a ball to right to even the score. Later in the inning, Left fielder Tyler Goeddel doubled home another run to put Louisville up 3-2. Long finally struck out pitcher Amir Garrett to end the inning, but not before facing seven batters.
The Chiefs could not get anything working in the latter stages of the game, and did not manage to get a single hit from the sixth through the eighth.
The Bats were working, though, and third baseman Brandon Dixon took reliever Kevin Jepsen deep to start the eighth inning and increase their lead to 4-2.
Which is where it stayed until De Aza’s closing shot.
De Aza’s walk-off hit marked his second of the season.
Reliever Rafael Martin earns the win, while Herget gets the loss.
It was the Chiefs’ second straight come-from-behind win over the Bats after losing both ends of a doubleheader on Tuesday.
Syracuse’s record sits at 37-66 after the win, and the Bats are 42-62.
The Chiefs host the Gwinnett Braves on Friday night.