First, Leonardo Reginatto came up big with his bat. In the end, his arm made the difference for the Bulls.
The Rays infield prospect hit an RBI double and tossed three scoreless innings of relief as Triple-A Durham defeated Lehigh Valley, 9-8, in 12 innings Wednesday.
Starting the game at second base, Reginatto went 1-for-5, doubling home a run in the eighth inning to give the Bulls an 8-5 lead. It was his contribution on the mound that proved to be the story, however.
After Ronald Belisario gave up three runs on four hits in 1 2/3 innings, Reginatto trotted out to the mound to start the 10th. The 25-year-old was tapped by manager Jared Sandberg to help save the arms of the bullpen.
"The last thing I want to do is put a position player on the mound, put him in a position like that where he can get hurt," Sandberg told the (Durham) Herald-Sun. "We were short on a bullpen day and hoping to finish the game in nine innings."
Reginatto only gave up two singles over three innings, throwing 34 of his 46 pitches for strikes. Sandberg and his teammates were taken aback.
"The comments in the dugout were pretty impressive with what Leonardo was able to do," Sandberg said. "He's throwing the ball 81, 82, 83, a similar spot, but moving the ball around up and down. The pitchers in the dugout were impressed with the way he could get outs."
Knowing that hitters lick their chops facing a fielder on the mound, the Brazil native used that aggressiveness against the Iron Pigs.
"I knew they were trying to hit home runs and stuff," Reginatto said. "So I was throwing it low and away so it would be harder to hang one over the wall."
That approach yielded eight fly-ball outs vs. one on the ground.
Taylor Motter singled home Rays' No. 13 prospect Hak-Ju Lee with the winning run to give Reginatto his first professional win. Motter finished with three hits and scored twice while Richie Shaffer, the Rays' No. 19 prospect, went 3-for-5 with three RBIs.
Domonic Brown was 4-for-6 with a homer, two RBIs and fell a triple short of the cycle, while Russ Canzler homered and plated four runs for Lehigh Valley.
Jason Berken fell to 3-4 after giving up a run on two hits over 2 1/3 innings for the IronPigs.
Robert Emrich is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @RobertEmrich.