Williamsport, Penn. - The Crosscutters took a tight one-run game in the eighth and blew it wide open scoring five runs in a 7-1 victory over the Auburn Doubledays on Thursday night. Williamsport has won five of its last seven while improving to 21-14 in the second half of the season.
Victor Vargas (W, 2-0) led the way with a strong start. The 18-year-old from Caratgena, Colombia lasted five innings of four-hit shutout ball before making way for Tyler Burch (S, 1) who recorded a four-inning save allowing one unearned run surrendered to Auburn (27-45) before retiring 10 straight from the sixth through the ninth.
Nate Fassnacht rapped a two-run double to left to key the big rally in the eighth. The balanced attack for Williamsport (31-41) also featured RBI singles from Bryson Stott, Jake Holmes and Nicolas Torres.
Corbin Williams was 1-for-1 with two runs scored while also picking up his league-leading 29th steal of the season. Williams had a single along with a walk, sacrifice bunt, and RBI sacrifice fly.
Willliamsport also featured some stellar defense in the opening five innings in preserving a 0-0 tie and 1-0 lead.
Johan Rojas offered a strong throw from right and received some nice asdsistance from Mitch Edwards diving across for a tag on a runner trying to score in the first.
Shortstop Kendall Simmons made a terrific pick up the middle and backhand flip to Nicolas Torres at second to start a double play in the second inning which also thwarted a run with a man charging in from third at the time. The two middle-infielders would turn another nice double play in the third.
And then Edwards stepped up again with more sound defense by firing out a runner trying to steal second base for the last out in the fourth and then he showed his strong arm again an inning later nabbing a batter at first on a little tapper in front of the plate.
Nicolas Torres was hit by a pitch in the third and advanced on Williams sacrifice bunt allowing him to score on Stott's single to left. Stott was thrown out trying to stretch the hit to a double but the Cutters had already taken the lead 1-0.
Williamsport built on its lead in the fifth on a walk and steal by Williams followed by an infield hit up the middle by Holmes. With the dropped ball at first on the attempted play, Williams was able to score all the way from second even though the ball never left the infield.
Auburn got one back in the sixth on an infield single for Landerson Pena and a single up the middle for Cory Wilson starting a potentially bigger rally. An errant pickoff throw to second by Tyler Burch followed by a wild pitch brought in the Doubledays first run of the game and then a walk and stolen base for Jake Randa had Auburn threatening for more with runners at second and third. But Burch battled back with strikeouts of Onix Vega and J.T. Arruda to preserve the lead and leave the runners stranded in scoring position. Burch would not allow another base-runners until a two-out double in the ninth when the game had already been put away for the Crosscutters.
Williamsport pushed across five runs while sending 11 batters to the plate in the eighth, mostly against Romero.
Kendall Simmons reached on a dropped pop-up and Rojas reached on an infield single when Auburn first baseman Anthony Peroni realized he didn't have a play at second and then cost himself a play at first with his hesitation. Rudy Rott laid down a sacrifice bunt but Romero got greedy and tried to throw out the lead runner at third and instead threw the ball into the outfield bringing home Simmons for a 3-1 lead.
Fassnacht delivered a two-run double down to the left field corner and, after a Mitch Edwards walk, Torres kept the rally going with a single to left to score Fassnacht after he had advanced to third on a wild pitch. Williams capped the scoring with his sacrifice fly to left bringing in Edwards from third. And Burch closed it out for the rare four-inning save.
The Crosscutters have four games remaining including three at home.
LHP Spencer Van Scoyoc is scheduled to start in the finale of the four-game series against Auburn on the last Friday Fireworks night of the season.
- Jake Holmes went 2-for-5 and is now 15-for-38 (.395) in his last 10 games with 9 RBI and five multi-hit games.
- Johan Rojas remains the NYPL leader in triple with five while also continuing to lead the Gulf Coast League with his five triples he had there before his call up on July 19.
- Corbin Williams leads the NYPL with 29 steals and is attempting to become the fifth Crosscutter all-time to win the league stolen base crown. He is now tied for fifth all-time among Crosscutters in stolen bases.
- The Crosscutters are 5-2 in their last 7 games and are 21-14 in the second half of the season after going 10-27 in the first half.
- Williamsport has four games remaining in the the regular season.
- Williamsport is 6-5 vs. Auburn including 4-2 at BB&T Ballpark
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.