Manchester, NH - With the game tied 4-4 in the bottom of the 10th inning, Santiago Espinal pulled off a two-out, two-strike steal of home to give the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Blue Jays Double-A affiliate) a thrilling 5-4 win over the Richmond Flying Squirrels (San Francisco Giants) on Saturday night at Delta Dental Stadium.
After two strikeouts in the 10th, Melvin Adon (L, 1-5) walked Josh Palacios and Kevin Smith to load the bases for Brock Lundquist . With Espinal on third, Lundquist battled Sam Moll to a 2-2 count. As Moll adjusted his grip and looked down at his glove before the next pitch, Espinal broke into a full sprint for home, and slid in head first before Moll could even get off a throw.
As part of Copa de la Diversión, Minor League Baseball's celebration of Latinx culture and values, the Fisher Cats suited up as Gatos Feroces de New Hampshire (Ferocious Cats), while Richmond played as Ardillas Voladoras (Flying Squirrels).
Richmond scored the game's first run in the top of the second inning. An error allowed Zach Houchins to reach second base and he scored on a single by Brandon Van Horn for a 1-0 lead.
The Fisher Cats mounted a two-out rally in the bottom of the seventh inning to take a 2-1 edge. Alberto Mineo doubled and Palacios followed with a single as Mineo scored. Smith then drew a walk, and consecutive hit batters put New Hampshire in front. Lundquist reached to load the bases, and then reliever Raffi Vizcaino hit Nash Knight with the first pitch he threw as Palacios scored.
Richmond moved back in front in the top of the eighth inning. Johneshwy Fargas walked and took second on a groundout. A wild pitch allowed Fargas to score from second to tie the game back up at 2-2. A single by Jonah Arenado was followed by a home run by Zach Houchins to put the Flying Squirrels in front 4-2.
New Hampshire bounced back to tie in the bottom of the eighth inning. Forrest Wall singled and Espinal followed with a double to the gap in right center. Wall scored, and Espinal moved up to third on a wild pitch. A walk to Riley Adams was followed by a sacrifice fly by Mineo to even the game at 4-4.
The series and homestand conclude with a 1:35 p.m. game against Richmond on Sunday. Kids get to run the bases after the game thanks to the NH State Liquor Commission, Division of Enforcement. We'll also welcome Girl Scouts from across New Hampshire. For tickets and information, visit www.nhfishercats.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.