2024 Program - Issue 8

A Run to Remember

By: Tim Heiman

one walk and garnering one strikeout. In the second, he strikes out the first two batters he faces and ends the perfect frame with a ground out. Just seven batters into the game, it is already clear that Richmond cannot touch Matz’s fastball. His curveball is sharper than it’s been all season. Matz’s third inning is also perfect. He adds two more strikeouts to his collection, cap- ping the frame by fanning Daniel Carbonell to raucous applause. The B-Mets faithful are beginning to realize that something special is unfolding before their eyes. In the fourth, Matz gets another weak groundout before walking Blake Miller. He strands him at first by retiring Mario Lisson and fanning Davin Harris, already his sixth strikeout of the night. Meanwhile, Flying Squirrels starter Ty Blach matches Matz zero-for-zero. That stretch ends in the fourth when the B-Mets finally push a run across against the lefty. Travis Taijeron starts the frame with an infield single to third. After Dustin Lawley strikes out, Brandon Nimmo shoots a bouncer to the left of second base. Shortstop Kelby Tomlinson slides to his left to field what could be an inning-ending double play. Instead, the roller, on its last bounce before reaching Tomlinson, skips off the infield lip, bounces over his glove and bounds into centerfield. Taijeron races to third on the single and scores on a sac fly by Xorge Carrillo to get Binghamton on the board. Matz cruises through a 1-2-3 fifth inning. Every out elicits a louder response from the crowd that has filled NYSEG Stadium anticipating history. Strikeout number eight starts the sixth for Matz. Number nine closes the inning. The K’s sandwich a fly out to right by Daniel Carbonell, the first Squirrel to hit a ball out of the infield against Matz. The southpaw has not allowed a hit through six innings. The B-Mets fans are fully aware. The run continues in the seventh. A fly out by Miller. Another fly out by Lisson. Matz works to a 2-2 count on Devin Harris. The lefty rears back and blows a fastball by the Richmond left fielder. It’s his tenth strike- out. Matz’s no-hit bid has now survived

seven innings. NYSEG Stadium has been put into a frenzy. With Binghamton still clinging to a one- run lead, Matz returns for the eighth and strikes out Angel Villalona looking. His eleventh strikeout marks a new ca- reer-high. It also pushes Binghamton to within five outs of the league title. However, Richmond’s offense finally awakens. Elliott Blair, punches a 1-0 pitch into right field that falls safely in front of Taijeron for a single. The no-hit bid has come to an end after 7-1/3 innings. All in attendance rise to their feet and salute Matz for his sparkling effort. With a no-hitter off the table, Matz’s focus shifts solely to keeping Richmond off the board, but his very next pitch is poked through the hole into right by Tyler LaTorre. It’s the end of the road for Matz. Pedro Lopez heads to the mound and takes the ball from the lefty. As he strides to the dug- out, the fans that have taken nearly every seat in the ballpark leave those seats once more to shower praise on their star pitcher. The fate of this game will now lie with the B-Mets bullpen. Robles gets the call from the pen with two aboard and one out. The hard-throwing righty who has fully embraced his new role as a reliever fans pinch-hitter Tyler Horan. One out shy of getting out of the jam, Robles gets ahead of Carbonell. The new- ly-signed outfielder fights off an 0-2 pitch from Robles and sends it into right field, plating Blair with the tying run. Pinch-run- ner Skyler Strosmoe, representing the go- ahead run, dashes for third, but is nabbed by Burgamy who had cut the throw off from right. With the game now tied, the B-Mets put two aboard in the eighth against the Squirrels bullpen. Richmond chooses to in- tentionally walk Burgamy to face Taijeron, a plan that backfired in Game 1. This time it pays off, but not without a little help from Elliott Blair, who makes a spar- kling sliding catch in right to rob Taijeron of a go-ahead hit. With the bases still loaded, Lawley strikes out and this thrilling game heads to the ninth tied at one. Satterwhite takes the reins and strands a runner while posting a scoreless frame. It’s off to the bottom of the ninth inning. Similar to Game 1 against the Sea Dogs, the B-Mets ninth-inning rally starts with Carrillo. The catcher laces a one-out single to left. Tovar follows by shooting another single into right.

Lopez calls upon Gavin Cecchini to pinch- run for Carrillo at second base. Cecchini, who was barely eight months old when the B-Mets won their most recent Eastern League title, represents the Champion- ship-clinching run. Lopez also selects Jayce Boyd to pinch-hit. It has been a comeback season for Boyd. He suffered through a case of thoracic out- let syndrome so severe it forced him to DH for the final two months of the 2013 sea- son. After a slow start, Boyd asserts him- self as one of the top hitters of the league by compiling the best batting average over the final two months of the season. The first pitch from Richmond left-handed reliever Steven Okert is a fastball that clips the outside corner. Okert misses with a slider on his next offering. A “Let’s go Mets” chant rings out from the crowd. They are almost imploring the B-Mets to win, not just to earn the title, but to alleviate all this built-up anxiety. With the potential winning run on second, the outfield plays shallow to prevent a bloop by Boyd from beating them. The eyes of 5,904 focus back to the matchup of Boyd versus Okert. The lefty comes with a fastball on 1-1. It misses inside. The crowd approves. On 2-1, Okert gets Boyd to chase an offspeed pitch low and away. Boyd’s off-balance swing sends groans through the crowd. The count now sits at two balls and two strikes. Cecchini leads from second. Tovar strolls off first. Boyd stares at Okert. Okert peers to his catcher Eliezer Zambrano. 5,904 B-Mets fans hold their breath, almost too nervous to cheer, as the lefty kicks and delivers. Okert’s 2-2 pitch is a fastball. He’s aiming for the inside corner. Instead, it tails to the plate, into Boyd’s wheelhouse. Boyd squares up the offering and drives in the air to right-center field. The fly ball hangs in the air for four sec- onds. It is the longest four seconds the B-Mets and their fans have ever experi- enced. Center fielder Daniel Carbonell is the only thing that separates the B-Mets from a championship. Having set up in shallow center, he’s forced to race back to his left in attempt to track down Boyd’s drive.

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