7-run 9th lifts Astros in late-inning slugfest

Abraham Toro-Hernandez went 3-for-5 with a triple, 2 runs, and 2 RBI in the Astros 10-8 win over the Twins. (Hunter Reed)

By Hunter Reed / Greeneville Astros | August 31, 2016 2:37 AM ET

Elizabethton, TN - Heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, the Greeneville Astros (32-34) held a 3-1 lead over the Elizabethton Twins (36-30) before the two teams combined for 14 runs over the next inning and a half. With each team adding seven runs apiece, the difference remained the same as the Astros took their second straight game from the Twins with a 10-8 victory.

The Astros held the Twins to just one hit over the first seven and one-third innings of the game. That hit came in the third inning on a Caleb Hamilton infield single to score the Twins' lone run until the eighth.

Cristian Javier got the start on the mound for the Astros and went the first five innings, allowing just one run on one hit, before giving way to left-hander Ben Smith. The 19-year-old righty also picked up four strikeouts while walking three, and he now owns a 1.75 ERA over seven appearances, with four starts, since arriving in Greeneville.

The Astros took the initial lead in the game in the first inning. Frankeny Fernandez, who extended his on-base streak to 26 games, got on after being hit by a pitch. Then, the outfielder and recently named team MVP stole two bases to give him a 20-steal season and put him at third with just one out. Next, catcher Raymond Henderson connected on a sacrifice fly to bring in the first score.

After the Twins had tied the game in the third, the Astros regained the lead in the fourth. With one out, Abraham Toro-Hernandez tripled on a fly ball to centerfield and was brought home on a Jonathan Arauz RBI ground out. 

In the seventh, the Astros extended their lead on a Luis Payano solo homer that he crushed well over the left field wall. It was the outfielder's sixth home run of the season, tying him with Connor MacDonald for the team-lead among players currently on the roster. Only Miguelangel Sierra, who had 11 before being promoted in early August, has more.

With the Astros holding a two-run lead in a relatively low-scoring game, an unexpected slugfest started in the bottom of the eighth. The Twins had RBI singles from Mitchell Kranson and Shane Carrier that sandwiched around Ariel Montesino scoring on a wild pitch. With those three runs, the Twins took their first lead at 4-3.

Needing at least one run in the top of the ninth inning to keep the game going, the Astros answered in a big way with seven runs on five hits. After loading the bases with one out, Stijn van der Meer hit a two-run double to put the Astros back on top. Then, following a Henderson RBI single, another score came in on a Twins throwing error. Next, with two outs, Toro-Hernandez knocked in another two runs on a line drive single to left field. Finally, a Carlos Machado RBI single concluded the Astros' offensive outburst and gave them a 10-4 advantage.

Suddenly down by six, the Twins would still not go easily in the bottom of the ninth. After loading the bases with no outs, Caleb Hamilton hit a grand slam to cut the Astros lead to just two. However, the Twins were held to just one more hit before Astros reliever Lucas Williams came on for the save and got a fly out to left field to end the game.   

The Astros will visit Elizabethton for game two of their season finale series on Wednesday at 7:00pm. Right-handed pitcher Juan Robles (0-0) will be making his second appearance and first start for Greeneville against the Twins' Domenick Carlini.

The Astros are the Appalachian League affiliate of the Houston Astros. For more information, call (423) 638-0411.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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