Grasshoppers stay alive in Sally Finals

Fisher scores tying run in ninth, hits go-ahead single in 11th

By Andrew Pentis / Special to | September 16, 2011 7:55 PM

The Savannah Sand Gnats were one strike away from winning their first South Atlantic League Championship in 15 years Friday night.

Then Ryan Fisher interrupted the proceedings.

Fisher scored the tying run with two outs in the ninth inning, then plated the go-ahead run in the 11th as the Greensboro Grasshoppers outlasted Savannah, 12-10, to tie the best-of-5 Finals, 2-2.

The champion will be crowned Saturday evening at Grayson Stadium. If the previous four games are any indication, it will be a close one. Game 1 was decided in the bottom of the ninth and Game 3 ended in the 11th. Friday's contest was even wilder.

The Sand Gnats were staring at a 7-2 deficit, then sent 10 batters to the plate in the fourth inning. The first seven reached safely -- five on singles, one on an error and Darrell Ceciliani's bases-clearing triple -- before reliever Alex Caldera retired three straight to end the frame.

Eight of the first nine runs were charged to Grasshoppers starter Rett Varner, who left without recording an out in the fourth and allowed nine hits and two walks while striking out one.

Greensboro tied it, 9-9, in the ninth as Fisher singled, advanced to second on Daniel Black's sacrifice, took third on Isaac Galloway's groundout and scored -- one strike from elimination -- on Noah Perio's clutch single.

The Grasshoppers grabbed the lead in the 11th when catcher Jacob Realmuto tripled and trotted home on Fisher's single to left field. They added two runs against reliever Ronny Morla (0-1) as Perio grounded out and Mark Canha drew a bases-loaded walk.

Fisher scored three runs and went 3-for-6 to raise his postseason batting average to .346. He hit .258 in 129 regular-season games.

Seven Grasshoppers recorded multi-hit games. Perio went 3-for-7, plated four runs and scored twice, while Marcell Ozuna and Canha had three RBIs apiece.

Brett Zawacki (1-0), Greensboro's fourth pitcher, allowed a run in the bottom of the 11th but picked up the win.

Andrew Pentis is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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