Granville, WV - A weird and unexpected 24 hours might have been the best thing to happen to the Auburn Doubledays. At the end of those 24 hours, the Doubledays (11-11) came out victorious over the West Virginia Black Bears (12-10), 8-7 in extra innings on Sunday night.
The weirdness started last night in Auburn, on the last day of the D-Days' series with the Batavia Muckdogs. What was supposed to be a condensed double-header of two seven inning games starting at 4:00 p.m. turned into one full game at 7:00 p.m. due to the weather. Auburn trounced Batavia, 9-3, in that game.
Next, the Doubledays boarded a bus in the parking lot of Falcon Park headed to West Virginia. That bus departed just after 11:00 p.m.
Auburn pulled in to their team hotel just shy of 6:00 a.m., and after a couple hours of shut-eye, chaos began to brew.
With C Onix Vega and SS J.T. Arruda on base, Doubledays OF Jake Randa opened the scoring in the Sunday evening matchup with a three-run home run in the top of the second inning. Randa's second bomb of the season came on a 1-2 count against West Virginia starting pitcher Will Kobos.
But, the Black Bears had a retaliation (and then some). West Virginia 3B Jared Triolo doubled in the bottom of the third to plate one, but a gorgeous relay throw from Arruda cut down Black Bear 2B Cory Wood at the plate and prevented West Virginia from cutting the lead to one.
That didn't make much of a difference. After a 45-minute rain delay, West Virginia poured it on (pun intended). SS Victor Ngoepe plated OF Blake Sabol on an RBI groundout in the 4th. Sabol ripped a 2-RBI single in the 5th to follow suit. An RBI double from C Kyle Wilkie and two-run homer from Sabol later, and West Virginia was up 7-3 heading into the 8th.
In the 8th, the hint of a comeback started to waft through the air. After Auburn 2B Jack Dunn reached, OF Caldioli Sanfler brought him in on an RBI single. Sanfler would come around to score thanks to an RBI fielder's choice from OF Ricardo Mendez and make it 7-5 West Virginia.
Then, Landerson Pena happened. After Eric Senior pinch ran for 1B Albert Carrillo after he singled to lead off the top of the 9th, the Doubleday OF who entered as a defensive replacement for CF Zach Collier in the 7th sent a two-run towering home run over the wall in left center to tie the game at seven. That was Pena's first home run of 2019.
The Black Bears couldn't scratch one across in the 9th, so we went to extras, where Mendez brought home Sanfler with a sac fly, after Vega moved Sanfler up to third with a leadoff single. Sanfler started the inning on second base because of the new extra innings formatting in MiLB.
In the bottom of the 10th, RHP Hunter McMahon tossed a scoreless frame, with help from Pena, who gunned down the possible tying run at the plate when they tested the Auburn left fielder's arm on a fly ball. Auburn took the game 8-7.
Doubleday starter Rafael Gomez threw 5.0 IP of four run baseball, allowing 10 hits, while walking two and striking out just one. On the other side, West Virginia starter Will Kobos pitched just three innings and allowed three runs, all on the Randa home run.
Auburn plays game two of the series with West Virginia on Monday night, in hopes of locking up a series win. First pitch is at 6:35 p.m., and you can listen to all of the action on fingerlakes1.com or TuneIn.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.