2024 Program - Issue 8

A Run to Remember

By: Tim Heiman

right-hander had been bumped to the bull- pen at the All-Star break when Binghamton welcomed three starters back from the Las Vegas 51’s and needed to make room in the rotation. Robles was the odd man out. Robles went from being the odd man out to The Man for the B-Mets. In his first outing as a reliever in the postseason, he blanked Portland over 2-1/3 innings. In the eighth, the Sea Dogs started to unravel With Wilfredo Tovar on second fol- lowing a leadoff double, Rivera stroked an RBI two-bagger down the right-field line. After a walk to Brian Burgamy, Boyd shot a potential inning-ending double play ball to second. Sean Coyle fielded cleanly, but his shovel to Ryan Dent was off-line and allowed Rivera to score. Darrell Ceciliani capped the rally and tied the game with a sac fly to center. Cody Satterwhite ran into trouble in the ninth, but preserved the 5-5 game by fan- ning Mike Miller to strand two aboard. The table was set for the B-Mets to set the tone against the first-place Sea Dogs. Yet again, Portland opened the door. With one out Xorge Carrillo reached on a fielding error by Miller at third base. Tovar laced a single to left, pushing the winning run into scoring position. Brandon Nimmo, hitting in the leadoff po- sition in the batting order, fulfilled the goal of every leadoff hitter; see as many pitches as possible. The left-handed hitting out- fielder engaged in a nine-pitch battle with reliever Noe Ramirez before striking out. Despite going down, Nimmo had done his job. Rivera, who had been waiting on-deck, saw everything he needed to see out of Ramirez. The unheralded infielder who had gone undrafted out of college calmly dug into the box. The Bronx native blasted the first pitch he saw from Ramirez over the left-field wall, sending the 1,625 diehard fans in atten- dance into a frenzy. The B-Mets had completed the comeback and Rivera had led the way. His walk- off, three-run homer capped a personal four-hit, five-RBI game. Binghamton had overcome a four-run deficit with seven unanswered runs while earning their first postseason win in ten years.

Unfortunately, the B-Mets failed to build on the momentum, falling in Game 2 by a 7-0 fi nal. The series shifted to Portland, Maine, where the B-Mets lost Game 3 by a 6-3 score. Binghamton would need to win in enemy territory in Game 4 to keep their season alive. Hemlock Field Hadlock Field, home to the Portland Sea Dogs since 1994, had not been hospitable to the B-Mets in the 2014 regular season. An April visit that included a loss and two postponements due to a snow storm was just a sign the difficulties ahead for the B-Mets. The club returned in mid-May for six-game series for first place and lost five straight games, capping the slump with a walk-off loss. The Sea Dogs defended home turf again by taking two of three at home in late July. On top of this, history was on the Sea Dogs side. Back in 1996, in their only pre- vious postseason meeting, the Sea Dogs defeated the B-Mets at Hadlock Field in Game 5 of the North Division Champion- ship Series. The B-Mets would have plenty of adversity to overcome. Earning Every Inch Lopez’s message in 2014 was, “Six more wins.” However, the message he has preached throughout his managerial career has been, “Quality at-bats.” Make the opposing pitcher work. Don’t swing at bad pitches. Find a pitch you can drive. Make him come to you. It is the foundation of a strong offensive at- tack. It was something sorely lacking from the B-Mets’ efforts in Games 2 and 3. The Binghamton Mets would need to go back to the basics for Game 4. With a powerful thunderstorm forecasted for Saturday night, the two clubs agreed to push the start of Game 4 up to noon on Saturday, September 6. The teams traded a run through the first three innings before Portland grabbed the

lead by plating a run in the fourth against B-Mets starter Rainy Lara. Trailing 2-1, the B-Mets prepared for the top of the fifth. It would prove to be the most pivotal two-inning stretch of the sea- son for Binghamton. After two straight hits to open the inning, Rivera shot a sinking line drive single to left, plating Tovar with the tying run. Reliever Mike McCarthy took over from Augliera after a walk loaded the bases and issued a free pass to Ceciliani to force in another run. McCarthy capped the inning by uncorking a wild pitch, prompting Rivera to dash home. After grabbing the lead with three runs in the fifth, Binghamton broke the contest open with a seven-run sixth. The B-Mets sent 11 men to the plate, collected four hits, cashed in on three walks and walked away from the 38-minute frame with an 11-2 lead. The first seven batters of the inning all reached and scored against relievers McCarthy and Pete Ruiz. The B-Mets had followed Pedro Lopez’s plan. They had made every plate appear- ance count. They did not give an inch to any Portland pitcher. They grinded it out and shifted the tide of the series. Lara capped his start, the first quality one from a B-Met in the postseason, with a blank sixth. Jon Velasquez surrendered a two-run homer to David Chester in the eighth before Randy Fontanez posted a perfect ninth. It was an 11-4 win. It bought another day of life to a B-Mets team that wanted no part of watching their season come to an end. There was still work to be done, though. Winner-take-all Game 5 was played at Hadlock Field on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, 18 years to the day that the Sea Dogs bounced Binghamton from the postseason in 1996. In a link to the past, that contest had also been a Game 5 at Hadlock Field. This time the B-Mets would not repeat history. Leading 2-1, Binghamton broke the game open with a six-run fourth inning. After a single and a sac bunt, Tovar extended Binghamton’s lead by lining an RBI single into center. Nimmo followed by punching a single into right, Tovar took third on the hit and scored when Jonathan Roof’s throw skipped into the seats.

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