Rays raise Mercer Cup for second straight year

By Kaitlin Merkel / Princeton Rays | August 30, 2016 11:31 PM

PRINCETON, WV- The Princeton Rays (37-28) clinched the 2016 Mercer Cup series over the Bluefield Blue Jays (36-30) after sweeping a doubleheader on Tuesday at H.P. Hunnicutt Field.

The Rays won 4-1 in the completion of a suspended game from Aug. 16, and then beat the Blue Jays 5-2 in the regularly scheduled seven-inning affair to clinch the season Mercer Cup series six games to three.

Princeton began the suspended game down 1-0 in the bottom of the third inning, which was erased with a solo home run off the bat of center fielder Emilio Gustave in the fifth inning, his sixth of the season.

The Rays took a 4-1 lead in the sixth inning on a RBI-groundout by first baseman Bobby Melley and a two-run home run by catcher Rene Pinto, his ninth of the season.

Princeton starter Peter Bayer took over on the mound for Jose Disla, who pitched the initial three innings back on Aug. 16. Bayer threw five scoreless innings, giving up just one hit and striking out seven Blue Jays batters for his second win of the season. Reliever Reimin Ramos clinched the victory with one scoreless inning of work, earning his sixth save of the season.

The Rays continued their offensive momentum in game two, taking a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a two RBI-double by Melley.

Princeton extended its lead to 5-0 with three runs in the third beginning with another two RBI-double, this one by Gustave, who later scored on a Bluefield wild pitch.

The Blue Jays notched one run in the fifth and the seventh innings, but eventually fell short against the Princeton pitching staff.

Rays starter Sam Long pitched four and two-thirds innings, giving up one run on two hits and striking out five. Reliever Sandy Brito closed out the game with two and one-third innings, giving up one run on one hit and striking out two, earning his third win of the season.

The doubleheader sweep means Princeton needs just one more victory to clinch the wild card playoff spot in the East division of the Appalachian League. The Rays are set to face Bluefield again on Wed., Aug 31 beginning at 7 p.m. at H.P. Hunnicutt Field.

The Princeton Rays have been the proud Appalachian League affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays since 1997. Any questions may be forwarded to the Rays' front office at 304-487-2000 or princetonrays@frontier.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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