It was hard enough for the Doubledays to finally be able to catch up with the Scrappers atop the division after playing two months of catch up in the standings. So it was only fitting that Auburn had to work a little more effort to take sole possession of first place on Thursday in a win over Mahoning Valley.
The Doubledays (33-24) bested Mahoning Valley (32-35) after a pitching duel down to the final inning. After a combined three hits over the game's first seven innings, the Doubledays offense snuck in two runs in the seventh inning before teeing off in the ninth to secure a 6-1 victory.
Walking away with the win was 19-year-old Niomar Gomez. Just recently called up from the Gulf Coast League where he had rough ERA of 8.24, expectations were up in the air as to what he'd bring to the table while the Doubledays are in the thick of a playoff race. But one hit and six innings later, it was obvious that Gomez had what it took to hang. He retired 13 Scrappers in order to start the game and worked out of a bases loaded situation in the fifth inning unscathed.
In the meantime, the one-two punch of Justin Garza and Shane McCarthy kept the Doubledays off the board for two-thirds of the game while holding them to just two hits. Auburn went down in order four times in the first six innings, with both of their hits being limited to singles.
But with McCarthy out of the game following the sixth inning, the Doubledays bats were finally able to get something going. Auburn made the best out of an avoidable bases-loaded situation caused by a walk and two fielding errors with a Nic Perkins sacrifice fly, and a bloop single to left field by Jose Sanchez made it a two-run ballgame.
The Doubledays lost the shutout in the eighth inning, but an offensive explosion in the ninth assured that Auburn would be alone in first place at the end of the night. Auburn sent nine men to the plate and scored four runs in an inning that was aided by two more errors and a wild pitch.
Nic Perkins led the Doubledays with two RBI on the night after driving in another run in the ninth on a single to left field. Pablo O'Connor continues his stellar play by scoring twice on the night. Chandler Day recorded a three-inning save after taking over for Gomez. He allowed just one hit on the night to limit the Scrappers to just two hits over nine innings.
The Doubledays will be back in action tomorrow at 5PM for doubleheader action at Falcon Park against the Batavia Muckdogs. All general admission tickets are only $1 when the Doubledays take on Batavia for the rest of the year.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.