Stroman helped his team and helped himself, but it wasn't enough

October 11: Many observers expected the host Firebirds to explode when the series shifted to Yuma, but the visiting pitching staff held off the charge at least one more day.

Coming off an eight-inning, two-run outing against Frosbite Falls in the Division Series, Bartolo Colon (derogatorily referred to as “Fatolo” by a previous BARB employer) was sent to the hill in hostile territory with the mission of giving the Casselton Horned Toads a one-game lead in the World Series. Though he didn’t stay around long enough for a decision, the aging and expanding right-hander helped keep the Yuma Firebirds offense down long enough for his team to earn their victory.

Colon had the backing of the first run of the game in the second inning. Adrian Gonzalez led off with a harmless grounder to second, but Anthony Rendon threw the ball away and Gonzalez hustled to second base before moving up and scoring on successive groundouts.

Yuma rookie Marcus Stroman was on top of his game as well, matching Colon most innings in his seven-inning stint. Stroman even helped himself in the fifth with an RBI fielder’s choice just a few batters after Colon threw away a potential groundout.

Both teams plated runs in the seventh, with Casselton’s coming on back-to-back doubles by Edwin Encarnacion and Jay Bruce and Yuma tying the game again on a Buster Posey solo blast.

The game went to the 10th inning still tied at 2, though the Firebirds had an excellent chance to break it open in the eighth. Andrew McCutchen led off the inning with a walk and Casey McGehee singled, but Craig Stammen settled down the struck out Ryan Zimmerman before inducing a double-play grounder off the bat of Ryan Braun.

Mark Melancon had entered in place of Stroman and pitched two hitless innings, and he struck out Khris Davis to lead off the 10th. The next batter was Scooter Gennett, who was hitless on the day. The second baseman strode to the plate looking for a first-pitch fastball, and he launched the offering to left-center to bust the tie!

Veteran Yuma wouldn’t go down without a fight. They had come back in the ninth inning of Game Two, and here in Game Three, in front of the home fans, they staged another late rally. Mookie Betts greeted new pitched Tom Milone with a lead-off single, and he took second when the ball squirted past Bruce. McCutchen flew out, but Danny Valencia drew a pinch-walk. Zimmerman worked the count full and took a mighty cut, sending the ball DEEP to straight-away center. Carlos Gomez was chasing…feeling for the wall…and then stopping short to catch the blast! Betts moved up and put the potential tying run 90 feet away with Braun at the plate. The former MVP took two balls before fouling off two pitches. Finally, Milone jammed him and popped him up. Gonzalez took in the final out, and the Horned Toads had taken a 2-1 lead in the series!


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