BURLINGTON, N.C.- The Burlington Royals withstood a dramatic Elizabethton Twins rally in the top of the ninth inning to take a 5-4 home win at Burlington Athletic Stadium on Thursday night for the Royals' first home win of the 2017 season.
Leading 5-1 heading to the frame, the Royals nearly turned a game-ending triple play, only to turn around and be forced to retire the league home run leader to preserve a win. Elizabethton loaded the bases with no out on a pair of singles and a walk. 2B Jose Miranda hit a ground ball to third that Royals 3B Dennicher Carrasco picked up, tagged the runner in his path, and threw to second for a force out. The relay to first was within inches of being an out, but Miranda reached a run scored to make it 5-2. SS Wander Javier stepped up and promptly launched a two-run home run to trim the lead to 5-4. Royals Manager Omar Ramirez summoned RHP Tyler Zuber to face DH Brent Rooker, the league's home run leader. Zuber induced a game ending groundout to second to preserve the Burlington victory.
The Royals (6-14) broke a 1-1 tie with a four-run bottom of the fifth inning. DH Travis Jones laced a leadoff double, and 2B Oliver Nunez moved him to third on a bunt single. CF Michael Gigliotti singled home Jones, and RF Seuly Matias was intentionally walked to load the bases with one out. Nunez and Gigliotti scored on a balk and a wild pitch, respectively, and Matias scored on a RBI double from 1B Reed Rohlman.
LHP J.C. Cloney kept the Twins off the board for four innings from the fifth through the eighth innings. Cloney struck out three and scattered four hits in earning his second professional win.
RHP Nolan Watson started for the Royals in a rehab appearance, and was effective over four innings. He allowed one run in the top of the third inning on an RBI single by Twins 3B Andrew Bechtold, but the Royals quickly answered in the home half of the inning. Jones led off with a single, and went to second on a Nunez single. After Gigliotti sacrificed to advance the pair, a sac fly from SS Jeison Guzman drove in Jones to make the game 1-1.
Jones would finish the night 3-for-3. Nunez and Gigliotti had two hits each.
The two clubs will close the series on Friday at 7:00 p.m. RHP Sal Biasi (1-0, 2.31 in AZL) makes his Burlington debut against Elizabethton LHP Charlie Barnes (1-1, 2.53). Coverage with Matt Krause on the Burlington Royals Broadcast Network begins at 6:45 p.m. on www.burlingtonroyals.com and on the TuneIn app (search "Burlington Royals"). At the park, it will be Paint The Park Purple Night! Wear purple to show your support for the American Cancer Society and Relay for Life! For tickets, call (336) 222-0223 or visit www.burlingtonroyals.com.
Burlington 5, Elizabethton 4
WP: J.C. Cloney (2-0)
LP: Melvi Acosta (2-1)
SV: Tyler Zuber (1)
HR: ELZ- Wander Javier (1)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.