Yezzo rallies Suns to series-tying win

Nationals prospect plates three runs; Hagerstown forces Game 5

Jimmy Yezzo shares the South Atlantic League lead with seven RBIs in six playoff games. (Tracy Proffitt/Hickory Crawdads)

By Robert Emrich / MiLB.com | September 12, 2014 11:28 PM

Jimmy Yezzo had one triple in 466 regular-season at-bats. His first of the postseason came a lot quicker and proved timely.

The Nationals prospect collected three hits and drove in three runs Friday night as Hagerstown rallied past Asheville, 6-3, to force a decisive fifth game in the South Atlantic League Championship Series.

Facing elimination, the Suns fell behind, 3-0. But Yezzo tripled home Narciso Mesa and Drew Ward with two outs in the sixth to cut the deficit to one. He scored the tying run one batter later on third baseman Ryan McMahon's error.

"It was a first-pitch fastball that was a little bit up in the zone," Yezzo said. "I was able to stay on it and hit it pretty well to center field and it ended up rolling to the wall, so that helped. It helped keep the inning going."

After McMahon's miscue, Cody Dent put Hagerstown in front for good with a two-run homer. Yezzo extended the lead with an RBI single in the seventh.

"Sticking with the approach -- and everybody's out there battling together -- just happened to work out for us tonight and hopefully again tomorrow," the 22-year-old first baseman said.

Ten outs away from the end of their season, the Suns found a way to take the Tourists -- the league's best team during the regular season -- to a winner-take-all showdown on Saturday night in Hagerstown.

"That's just something we've kind of been doing -- never give up, keep battling," Yezzo said. "And we never have given up and we weren't about to start tonight. Pitchers limited them after the three-run inning, we played some awesome defense and got some pretty timely hitting."

The bullpen played a key role in the Suns' winning equation on Friday, with Nationals' No. 16 prospect Jake Johansen allowing one hit over 3 2/3 innings to earn the win. Justin Thomas closed things out with three hitless frames to notch his first postseason save.

"They've been awesome all year," Yezzo said. "Jake Johansen came in and kind of shut it down. They were both outstanding tonight. They limited them to what they had gotten previously.

"When the hitters look at it, they kept us in the game and they didn't let up anything else. That's all you can really ask for. They gave us a chance to win. That always keeps us pumped up."

The Tourists did all of their scoring in the third as Rockies No. 3 prospect David Dahl slugged a solo homer and Jordan Patterson added a two-run shot. After Asheville starter Antonio Senzatela gave up two runs on six hits over 5 1/3 innings, Trent Blank (0-1) yielded three unearned runs on two hits while recording two outs.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @RobertEmrich. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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