Chiefs Defeat Tides in Opening Day Shootout

Published on April 15, 2018

Story and photo by Corey Crisan

Syracuse, N.Y. – The first place Chiefs (5-2) played through a delayed start time, a rain delay, and extra innings to earn a 9-8 win in its home opener against the Norfolk Tides

It was almost a canceled first day of baseball in Central New York, but Mother Nature quieted down long enough for the Syracuse Chiefs to kick off its home schedule on Thursday.

“Syracuse has always been great for me,” Chiefs manager Randy Knorr said regarding his first game managing in Syracuse since the 2011 season. “The people have always been great for me. Even when the Simones were here, they took care of me… I got to know (current Chiefs GM Jason Smorol) a lot when I was roving, and he’s such a great person.”

 

Wasting No Time

The Chiefs displayed power in the bottom of the first inning. Chiefs designated hitter Jose Marmolejos launched an estimated 430-foot blast down the right field line to give the Chiefs a quick 1-0 lead. Two pitches later, Chiefs first baseman Chris Dominguez cleared the left-center field fence to extend the Chiefs lead to 2-0 after the first inning.

The Chiefs lead did not last for long. Norfolk responded with three runs in the top of the second inning. Austin Wynns walked and DJ Stewart singled to start. Then, Luis Sardinas reached on a bobbled grounder by Chiefs third baseman Adrian Sanchez to load the bases. Jaycob Brugman knocked in Wynns with a sacrifice fly to put the Tides on the board, and Stewart moved to third. Tides Anderson Feliz then singled, scoring Stewart. Joey Rickard followed with a ground out, scoring Sardinas.

Milone appeared to be on track for a 1-2-3 third inning but suspects responsible for Norfolk’s scoring in the second came around again. Wynns and Stewart knocked consecutive two-out singles off Milone. Both scored on a double from Sardinas to extend the Tides lead to 5-2 at the time.

 

Fighting Back

The Chiefs responded in the bottom half. After Andrew Stevenson flew out to left, Sanchez ripped a double. Marmolejos and Dominguez walked to load the bases, and that’s when the Chiefs seized the opportunity.

Alajandro De Aza brought in Sanchez with a sacrifice fly to left. Spencer Kieboom doubled to the left-center field wall to score Marmolejos and Dominguez, tying the game at 5-5.

Milone settled in during the fourth and fifth innings, retiring the Tides in order in each inning. He took 25 pitches combined to do so, and he was pulled in favor of Jaron Long to start the sixth. Milone finished after five innings. He gave up five runs (four earned) on six hits while walking one and striking out five. He did so on 78 pitches and 53 strikes.

“He was having trouble throwing his cutter where he wanted to,” Chiefs manager Randy Knorr said of Milone’s start. “He was having a tough time getting the ball to (the left) side of the plate. Once he got it, it gets him off his changeup and his other pitches.”

 

The Tide is High

Chiefs center fielder Andrew Stevenson was ejected in the bottom of the sixth for slamming his bat after disagreeing with home plate umpire Charlie Ramos and his called third strike.

Norfolk regained the lead in the top of the seventh with more two-out magic. The Tides mustered four consecutive hits off Chiefs reliever Jaron Long to score two runs and take a 7-5 lead.

Syracuse erased Norfolk’s newfound lead in the bottom of the seventh. Alejandro De Aza singled and stole second to put runners on second and third with one out. Spencer Kieboom reached on a fielder’s choice, as Tides shortstop Luis Sardinas went to third on a grounder, but De Aza beat the tag. The Tides and Chiefs were tied at 7-7 as Marmolejos scored.

Just as the Chiefs responded, Norfolk did the same in the top of the eighth. Feliz and Joey Rickard knocked back-to-back one-out singles, and Ruben Tejada loaded the bases as Chiefs first baseman Spencer Kieboom, who started as catcher and moved to first after the Stevenson ejection, committed a throwing error when trying to start a double play. Rosa followed with a dribbling grounder to third that scored Feliz, giving the Tides the lead.

Syracuse had a scoring chance in the bottom of the eighth, but they could not capitalize with runners on the corners and two outs. Norfolk went quietly in the top of the ninth, and Syracuse seized its opportunity to extend the game.

Chris Dominguez took Norfolk reliever Jhan Marinez’s first pitch to the right-center field gap for a leadoff triple. Alejandro De Aza then rocketed a single off the glove of Tides first baseman Garabez Rosa. Dominguez scored to tie the game at 8-8.

 

New Rules!

The new Minor League Baseball rules for extra innings came into effect for the first time in the Chiefs’ young season. Norfolk began the inning with a runner on second base in the form of Luis Sardinas, who was the batter to end the ninth inning for the Tides. Norfolk couldn’t bring him home.

The Chiefs began the tenth with Rafael Bautista on second base.

Alex Dunlap, who replaced Stevenson after his ejection, laid a bunt down the third base line that died in the grass down the line. No play was made and the Chiefs had runners on the corners with nobody out.

Adrian Sanchez then smoked an 0-1 ground ball past Sardinas, scoring Bautista.

The Chiefs survived to earn the 9-8 extra inning victory after an hour and 26-minute long rain delay. A crowd of 3,559 entered the gates of NBT Bank Stadium to witness it, and it took three 3:14 to play.

“(Adrian) was swinging the bat good all night,” Knorr remarked about Adrian Sanchez’s walk-off single. “I felt really comfortable, especially when Alex (Dunlap) put the ball down. He couldn’t put a better bunt down. You got two guys on… I felt really good about us getting that run in.”

 

From the Manager 

The Chiefs moved above .500 on Tuesday with its win over Rochester. It was the first time the Chiefs held a record above .500 since April 23, 2017 when the Chiefs were 8-7. Syracuse’s win on Thursday moved its record to 5-2.

“They all like each other, they push each other, and they root for each other,” Knorr said of the team’s camaraderie. “We got walked off a couple times in Scranton. They never gave up. They came back in the Rochester series. Losing a couple games like that (6-5 and 5-4 walk-off losses at Scranton/Wilkes Barre), you never know which way they’re going to go. They all got back on it and had a good series against Rochester.”

 

What’s Next

Syracuse and Norfolk continue its series into the weekend at NBT Bank Stadium. Syracuse RHP Erick Fedde opposes Norfolk RHP David Hess on Friday. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. EST.