Thunderbirds walk off Pelicans, advance to semifinals
It took a week, but the Thunderbirds used a strong pitching performance and some late game offense to drop the Pelicans 4-3 and advance to the semifinals.
Brent Smerczynski earned the win for the Thunderbirds tossing another complete game. He went 8 innings, giving up 2 earned runs on 5 hits while picking up 5 strikeouts.
After falling behind 2-0 in the 3rd inning, the birds used a 2 out rally to cut the deficit to 1, when Cliff Brade got one of his 3 hits on the night. He quickly stole the first of his 3 bags before being driven in by a Ryan Karonka single. The Pelicans added an unearned insurance run in the 5th to lead 3-1. That score held until the birds last at bat.
John Menth led off the bottom of the 7th with a single, followed by Sean House reaching on an error by the right fielder. Smerczynski then hit a 2-run triple to right center to tie the game at 3 and forcing extra innings.
After a scoreless top of 8th by Smerczynski, Jody Nicewonger led off the bottom half with a walk followed by a walk by Karonka. After a lineout to left center, Rob Carroll singled to left center, but the trail runner was caught in a rundown for the 2nd out leaving runners on 2nd and 3rd. Dustin Harrison was intentionally walked to load the bases. John Menth stepped in and promptly laced a 2-0 curveball up the middle to score Nicewonger for the walk off win.
The Thunderbirds return to action next week (9/2) to face Modoc in the semifinals. The game will be held at McInnish Park #11 for a 6:45pm contest.