Tucker, Greeneville stay alive in Appy Finals

Astros rally in ninth to send Championship Series to decisive Game 3

Kyle Tucker is batting .350 with two homers in the Appalachian League postseason. (Cliff Welch/MiLB.com)

By Tyler Maun / MiLB.com | September 8, 2015 1:23 AM

The season's end was one out away. Kyle Tucker and the Greeneville Astros clawed their way back into contention.

With a three-run rally in the top of the ninth inning, Rookie-level Greeneville stormed back to stay alive in the Appalachian League Championship Series with a 10-8 win over Princeton to even the Finals and force a decisive Game 3.

"We were excited obviously after the win," Tucker said. "Being able to come back like that shows that we're not ready to go home like that. We're fighting for a championship. That's what we did the whole year. We fought. I'm excited to see what tomorrow will bring, and hopefully we can keep the hitting going."

Princeton raced out to an early lead with three runs in the first, highlighted by Kewby Meyer's two-RBI double, and another on David Rodriguez's solo shot in the third, but Tucker got his team on the board in the fourth. With two outs, the Astros' No. 4 prospect blasted a solo homer to get Greeneville on the board. Connor Goedert followed with one of his own to cut the deficit in half.

"We knew we had to win this game to keep going," Tucker said. "We tried to hold them off early, but they got a couple hits early on, so we had to crawl back into it.

"I was trying to get us going. We were trying to crawl back. I was fortunate enough to get one across the plate and get our first run. Then Connor behind me got another one, so that got the excitement level up a little bit in our dugout."

Myles Straw got Greeneville to within one with an RBI single in the fifth before Princeton pulled away again. Jose Rojas doubled in two for the Rays in the bottom of the frame and Rodriguez added another RBI in a two-run sixth.

But after loading the bases to open the seventh, Rodrigo Ayarza crushed a grand slam to pull Greeneville back to within a run.

"We were down, 8-3, and we knew we needed to get a couple hits," MLB.com's 60th overall prospect said. "We got a couple guys on and got that one big hit. That got us going a little bit. We were just trying to keep the momentum going from there."

In the ninth, the Astros did. Randy Cesar ripped a three-run single to right field with two outs to put Greeneville in front for the first time. 

"We got some key hits like Ayarza with the grand slam to really bring us close and then coming up big in the ninth," said Tucker, who walked and scored in the final frame. "The intensity went up, and we were able to get some hits and get the win."

Greeneville, which went 0-25 when trailing after eight innings in the regular season, closed the door behind Samil De Los Santos (1-1), who pitched two perfect innings. 

The Appalachian League championship will be decided Tuesday night in Princeton.

Tyler Maun is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @TylerMaun. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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