Pulaski, VA - The Pulaski Yankees 2019 season came to an end after a thrilling 17-inning game that lasted more than five hours as the Burlington Royals won game three of the winner take all eastern division playoff series 5-4 at Calfee Park on Sunday night.
The Royals looked like they might put the first runs of the game but Yankees starter Randy Vasquez was able to pitch out of a bases loaded jam with a strikeout and ground out. Pulaski then took the lead in the bottom of the second inning.
After Campero led off the inning being hit by a pitch, Ryder Green hit a double into the right center field gap that moved Campero to third base. An opposite field single from Chad Bell scored Campero and moved Green to third base. Pulaski tacked on two more runs in the inning to lead 3-0 after the second.
A lead off single came around to score for Pulaski in the bottom of the third inning after a couple of wild pitches from the Royals new pitcher and the Yankees found themselves on top 4-0. Pulaski was then held hitless over the next four innings but Vasquez did his part and kept Burlington behind as he gave up just one run over six innings while striking out five hitters. Tyler Johnson came in relief of Vasquez in the seventh inning and retired the side in order.
Johnson gave up back-to-back singles to start the top of the eighth inning before walking a Royal to load the bases with no outs. Johnson was replaced by Evan Voliva to try and finish the eighth inning. A passed ball scored the second run of the game for Burlington. Another walk loaded the bases once again before a single and a sac fly tied the game at 4-4. Pulaski made yet another call to the bullpen as Mitch Spence came in with two outs before getting the third out and keeping the game tied. Spence pitched 3.1 innings as the game went into extra innings tied at 4-4 with neither team recording another hit until the top of the 11th inning.
The Yankees stranded their first base runner since the eighth inning after a two-out walk in the bottom of the 10th inning. The Royals got a runner to third base after a lead off single was bunted over to second base and then a ground ball moved the runner to third base. Spence then made a great play when he fielded a soft ground ball in front of the mound and then slipped trying to make the throw to first but got the out and kept the go ahead run off the board.
Pulaski got their first hit since the third inning as Campero led off the bottom of the 11th with a single. He stole second base to put the winning run on second base with no outs but the Yankees left him stranded with three straight fly outs. Kenlly Montas replaced Spence on the mound for the Yankees in the 12th inning. He gave up a pair of singles before getting out of the inning unscathed and the game remained tied. Another lead off single went nowhere for Pulaski in the bottom of the 12th as the team once again failed to advance him past second base.
Neither team really threatened again until the 14th inning when the Royals led off the inning with a double off the right field wall and then advanced to third base after Green couldn't quite get a handle on the ball. The Yankees caught a break as the next batter grounded out right to first base and the runner from third had to stay put and gave the Yankees their first out. Yankees manager Luis Dorante then intentionally walked one of the hottest hitters in the league in Vinnie Pasquantino to give the Yankees a double play opportunity to get out of the inning. The gamble paid off as Montas got a ground ball to the shortstop who then started the 6-4-3 double play and kept the game tied and sent the crowed that stayed into a frenzy as they knew just how important it was.
Pulaski stranded yet another two out walk in the 14th inning at first base and the Royals stranded a runner at second base in the top of the 15th after a single and a balk moved the runner over with two outs. Once again, neither team could get a hit in their next at bats. The Royals led off the top of the 17th inning with a bunt single from Pasquantino and then pinch ran for him at first base. Montas threw a pickoff to first base and it got past Farrell and the ball scooted into right field as the runner was able to advance to third base on the failed pickoff attempt.
Montas and the Yankees looked they were once again going to be able to get themselves out of a jam with a runner on third with no outs in extras as the next batter lined out right to the second baseman and then Montas delivered his sixth strikeout of the game to give the Yankees two outs. It was at that time that the Yankees staff made another call to the bullpen once Montas hit 80 pitches in his 5.2 innings of work in extra innigs. Kevin Milam came in to pitch and gave up a single right back up the middle to score the go ahead run for Burlington. Milam got the next batter to strikeout and the Yanks need a run to keep the marathon game going.
The Yanks were unable to muster any offense and went down in order as Burlington completed the comeback and won the eastern division playoff series and will advance to face Johnson City in the Appalachian League Championship.
Each team used six different pitchers throughout the game and the teams combined for 37 strikeouts. Burlington and Pulaski combined to go 4-35 with runners in scoring position and left 24 runners stranded. The 17-inning, 5 hour and 19 minute long affair was the second longest game in Appalachian League Playoff history behind the Kingsport Cherokees and Bristol Twins who played a 19-inning game in 1945.
The Yankees season ended after going 43-28 between the regular and post season and winning the East Division regular season title.
The Pulaski Yankees are the Advanced Rookie level affiliate of the New York Yankees playing in the Appalachian League. Pulaski is celebrating its 54th season in the Appalachian League in 2019. Calfee Park has won league championships in 1948, 1969, 1986, 1991 and 2013. Motor Mile Field at Calfee Park opened in 1935 and was renovated for the team's first season as a Yankees affiliate in 2015. For more information, please visit www.pulaskiyankees.net or follow the Pulaski Yankees on social media, @PulaskiYanks (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram). This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.