The Bluefield Blue Jays (28-14) downed the Pulaski Yankees (28-13) by an 8-3 score on Friday night at Calfee Park. Bluefield now sits just a half game back of Pulaski for first place in the Appalachian League East Division.
The Blue Jays put four runs on the board in the top of the 7th to put the game away. The big blow came on a two RBI single from Brandon Grudzielanek that made it 7-3.
Bluefield reliever Turner Larkins (2-0) earned the win. He pitched 4.1 innings of shutout relief while surrendering one hit and striking out five. Yankees reliever Kyle Zurak (0-1) was handed the loss after giving up one earned run in three innings of work.
Grudzielanek had an outstanding night at the plate picking up two hits to go along with four RBI and one run scored. Yankees leadoff hitter Evan Alexander was the only multihit performer for the Yankees. He went two for four and scored two runs.
The Yankees took an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the 1st. Alexander opened the inning with a double and Jesus Bastidas followed with a walk. Eric Wagaman then sent a grounder towards short but Blue Jays shortstop Kevin Smith airmailed the throw to first which allowed Alexander and Bastidas to cross the plate.
Bluefield took the lead in the top of the 3rd. Francisco Rodriguez sent a one out double to left and Chavez Young followed with a bunt base hit. Smith walked to load the bases. Yankees starter Dalton Lehnen struck out Anthony Fuentes for the 2nd out but then surrendered a walk to Ryan Noda which allowed Rodriguez to score and make it 2-1.
Grudzielanek came through with a two out single into right field which chased home Young and Smith to give Bluefield a 3-2 advantage.
Zurak came into the game following Grudzielanek's single and got Reilly Johnson to pop out to end the frame and leave two runners stranded.
Pulaski knotted the score 3-3 in the bottom of the 4th. Victor Rey walked and advanced to 2nd on a passed ball. Yeison Corredera beat out an infield base hit on a grounder to short. An errant throw from Smith allowed Rey to score and tie the game.
The Jays reclaimed the lead on the top of the 5th on a solo shot to left from Fuentes.
The Blue Jays tacked on four runs in the top of the 7th. Young reached 1st to open the inning after being hit by a pitch and moved to 2nd on a passed ball. Smith sent a double to left that scored Young to make it 5-3. Fuentes reached 1st after being drilled in the back and Ryan Noda walked to load the bases. Noda's walked ended the night of Yankees reliever Mark Seyler. He went a third of an inning and gave up three earned runs one hit and one walk.
Jose Pujols took over on the mound and surrendered a single up the middle to Grudzielanek that scored two more runs to open up a 7-3 Blue Jays lead. Grudzielanek later scored on an RBI sac fly by Johnson to give Bluefield a five run edge.
Graham Spraker took over for Larkins to finish off the Yankees in the bottom of the 9th. He surrendered one hit but managed to keep the Yankees off the board and nail down Bluefield's 8-3 win. The Yankees and Jays will meet again on Saturday night at Calfee Park to conclude the series. First pitch is scheduled for 7pm.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.