BILOXI, Miss. - The Birmingham Barons withstood a furious ninth inning rally for a 6-5 victory over the Biloxi Shuckers on Sunday night.
Down 6-4, with two on and two out in the ninth, Blake Allemand smacked a line drive down the line in right, scoring two with what the Shuckers thought were the two tying runs. However, the umpires ruled that the ball was caught in a cement block that houses the foul poles, leading to a ground-rule double.
On the ruling Wendell Rijo, who had scored the tying run, was pulled back to third base and one run was taken off the board to preserve a 6-5 Barons lead. Brandon Brennan then proceeded to retire Jacob Nottingham for the final out of the game in a wild finish.
"I was running towards the wall and I saw the ball disappear into the cubby at the bottom of the foul pole on the foul side," said Barons' right fielder Mason Robbins. "I threw my hands up to begin, because I couldn't see the ball, but I picked it up, because I did not want the winning run to walk in, so I threw it in."
"From where I was standing, the ball was hooking and went in to the column in foul territory," Brennan said of the play. "But I'm glad they got together, talked and brought the runners back and (with the long delay) you have to stay focused, because if I would have let in, it could have been one hit right there, game over."
The scoring started early, as Robbins continued his strong series in front of his home state crowd, collecting his third RBI of the series with a two-out RBI single in the first against Biloxi starter Taylor Williams.
From there, the seesaw began to tip both ways, as the teams proceeded blast three home runs over the course of two innings, two for the Barons and one for the Shuckers.
Dustin DeMuth tied the game at one with his sixth home run of the season in the bottom of the second. The Barons then followed with a pair of big flies, first by Nick Basto in the top of the third. Basto's solo shot, his 13th of the season, gave the Barons a 2-1 lead and tied him with teammate Keon Barnum for the team lead.
The tie, however, only lasted for one inning, as Barnum clobbered his 14th, a two-run shot in the fourth, which extended Birmingham's lead to 4-1.
"We kid around about it," Basto said about the competition with Barnum. "But it's just fun playing like that and competing with a teammate and bringing that into the game."
The Shuckers mounted a fifth inning rally to tie the game at four, ending Spencer Adams' day after 4.2 innings. Johnny Davis started the scoring in the inning with a solo home run, his second of the season. Later in the rally, Blake Allemand cut the deficit to 4-3 with a sacrifice fly and Jacob Nottingham tied the game at four with an RBI single.
After giving up four runs in 4.2 innings, Adams turned the tie game over to Jake Johansen and the Barons bullpen. Johansen retired DeMuth to get out of the fifth with the game tied, allowing the Barons offense to take advantage.
With runners at first and third and one out in the sixth, Jose Vinicio was asked by manager Julio Vinas to lay down a bunt and he did to perfection, as Austin scored what proved to be the game winning run.
Robbins then drove home an insurance run with a ninth inning infield single and the rest was locked down by the bullpen.
Johansen tossed two scoreless out of bullpen for his first win in a Barons' uniform and Brennan moved to nine-for-nine in save opportunities.
The Barons and the Shuckers will square off for the final time this season tomorrow at 6:35 p.m. CT. Left-hander Tanner Banks will take the ball for the Barons, while righty Aaron Wilkerson will start for Biloxi. Curt Bloom will bring you all the action, starting with the Coca-Cola pregame show at 6:25 p.m. CT. The game can be heard on the iHeart Radio app and 105.5 WERC-FM.
For ticket information, game schedule, promotions calendar or for additional information about Regions Field, call (205) 988-3200, or visit www.barons.com, www.facebook.com/birminghambarons or on Twitter: @bhambarons.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.