Early lead squandered as Rays top Astros

Astros starter Hansel Paulino struck out five in three innings of work Monday night. (James Spears)

By Dustin Fishman / Greeneville Astros | July 24, 2017 11:39 PM ET

The Greeneville Astros (16-14) got out to an early four run lead, but fell late to the Princeton Rays (15-17) by a final score of 10-4 on Monday night. Princeton rallied for eight runs in the seventh inning to win their third game in a row.

Astros starter Hansel Paulino got through the first inning unscathed after allowing a single and a walk to start the game. After a fly out by Joey Roach, Paulino forced Rays catcher Ronaldo Hernandez to ground into a double play ending the threat.

Greeneville however made their presence felt early, plating three runs on three hits. Center fielder Gilberto Celestino led off the inning with a single to center and after a Frankeny Fernandez pop out, Celestino snagged second base notching his fifth stolen base of the year. Roman Garcia worked a walk putting two men on, but an infield fly forced Greeneville to record a base knock in order to score. Right fielder Patrick Mathis did just that, doubling and leaving runners on second and third. Catcher Martin Figueroa walked to load the bases for Brody Westmoreland. Greeneville would score its second run on a wild pitch, but Westmoreland followed that up with a single on a sharp line drive to center field putting runners on the corners. Shortstop Cody Bohanek was hit by a pitch to load the bases again, but a pitching change is just what Princeton needed to force a ground out for the third out.

The Astros kept dealing as Paulino struck out five batters over the next two innings. Colton Shaver continued his dominance swinging the bat, clubbing his fifth home run on a fly ball to left field giving the Astros a 4-0 lead. Shaver has now homered in his last three games, tying the record of consecutive games with a home run. Shaver is the sixth Greeneville Astros player to reach this milestone in team history.

Princeton started to chip away at the Astros lead in the top of the fourth. With a walk and a double to start the inning, Princeton had runners on second and third with nobody out. A soft ground out gave Princeton one out, but a sacrifice fly brought one run across the plate. Center fielder Carl Chester then notched an RBI double to right before Greeneville would escape the inning on a fly out making it a 4-2 game in favor of Greeneville.

All was quiet until the top of the seventh inning when the Rays exploded for eight runs. The Rays started with a walk and a single on a bunt ground ball, but a throwing error left runners on the corners. After recording a strike out, Hernandez singled to right scoring one and advancing the runner to second. A hit batter loaded the bases and a blooper to shallow right field by Devin Davis scored the second run of the inning. The Astros pitching staff recorded another strike out for the second out, but the Rays kept the hits coming with a two RBI single by Bryce Brown. Brown then stole second base, eventually scoring on a two RBI double to left field. A pitching change resulted in walking Chester, who then made it to third base on a Just Bridgman single to right with Bridgman advancing to second on the throw. After loading the bases on a walk, a wild pitch gave the Rays their eighth and final run before a ground out to end the inning. The Rays pitching staff shut out the Astros in the final three innings only surrendering two hits and securing the victory.  

The Astros take on the Rays in game two of their three game series tomorrow night looking to even the series. Right hander Felipe Tejada will take the mound and first pitch is set for 7:00pm.  

The Astros are the Appalachian League affiliate of the Houston Astros. For more information, visit www.greenevilleastros.com or 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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