PULASKI, Virginia - In a game fit for Independence Day, the Pulaski Yankees and Bristol Pirates made fans wait before putting on a show at Calfee Park Monday night. Pulaski defeated Bristol 7-6 thanks to a ninth-inning rally highlighted by Kevin Cornelius' grand slam. Yankees' reliever Phillip Diehl picked up the win pitching two innings allowing three hits and two runs. Pirates' reliever Geoff Hartlieb tossed a third of an inning giving up three hits, four earned runs, and two unearned runs that were plated on Bristol errors.
The Yankees had lots of chances to score but failed to capitalize on most of them. In the second inning Victor Rey hit a two-out double to get on base for the Yankees and advanced to third thanks to a wild pitch by Nicholas Economos. Unfortunately for Pulaski, Josh Gardiner was not able to advance Rey any further as he grounded out in the next at bat.
Ben Ruta got things going in the fourth inning drawing a one-out walk. He made it to third on a single by Gardiner. Gardiner reached second with a stolen base. Neither runner was able to make it home as Estevan Florial struck out.
The Pirates finally put a run on the board in the top of the fifth inning after Michael De La Cruz singled and advanced due to a bad pickoff attempt by Pulaski's Abel Duarte. De La Cruz was driven home on a sac fly by right fielder Alexis Bastardo.
In the home half of the sixth, Leonardo Molina doubled to left. Molina advanced to third after Ruta singled to right. Molina scored and Rey reached after an error by Bristol's shortstop Daniel Cucjen.
The tie didn't last long. When the Pirates batted in the seventh inning, they didn't waste an opportunity as five batters reached base on three hits. Raul Siri scored on an RBI single by Bastardo. Center fielder Victor Fernandez and Bastardo both scored on RBIs by Huascar Fuentes and Brent Gibbs. The scoring didn't end there. In the top of the ninth, De La Cruz singled to right before scoring on Fuentes' RBI double. One more run would end the Pirates threat and make it 5-2.
The Yankees would not be deterred in the bottom of the ninth. After the bases were loaded on a walk by Bristol pitcher Geoff Hartlieb, Kevin Cornelius jacked a grand slam to centerfield to put the Yanks within one. The grand slam was Cornelius' sixth home run of the season. An error by Siri allowed Ruta to reach first base with Molina on second. This prompted a Pirates' pitching change. John Pomeroy then loaded the bases again by walking Gardiner. Florial came up to bat again for a second time in the inning and was walked by Pomeroy as well setting up Wilkerman Garcia with the potential game-winning at bat. Pomeroy then proceeded to walk in Garcia to end the game 7-6.
The Yankees and Pirates will finish the four game series on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at Calfee Park.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.