Pioneers Claim 3rd Place in West Division, Beat Newark 5-4
The Pioneers came into Wednesday night with the possibility of two opponents in the first round, either the first place Utica Blue Sox or the second place Geneva Red Wings. Either way they were going on the road for a one game playoff. That being said traveling to Geneva, a short 90 minute bus ride would be far preferable to the couple hours it takes to get to Utica. Unfortunately, if the Pios were going to move up in the standings not only did they need to win, they relied on Utica to win over Adirondack.
The Pios luck held out early as Utica claimed victory over Adirondack, but that put the onus on the Pioneers to come out victorious over a depleted, but still dangerous Newark team. Elmira turned to Chase Austin, the third year Pioneer, to pitch in this very important game. Austin has been a bullpen pitcher all season, only starting one other time. Austin not only pitched well, he far exceeded expectations going seven full innings allowing just four hits and one unearned run.
Elmira jumped out to a 2-0 lead as Brennen Dorighi walked and stole two bases to set himself up at third as a Trevor Henneman double drove him in. Henneman would be driven in one batter later as Zach Turner got himself a double as well. The Pioneers added two more in the sixth as Craig Corliss singled and was driven in after Bryce Moskiewicz and Dorighi both singled and Moskiewicz came across on a passed ball.
The 4-1 lead was up in the air as Matt Busher came into the game in the top of the eighth. After the first batter, James Wrabel, reached on an error, Bayley Jamanis struck out. Allen Murphy was hit by a pitch before Tate Ballestero struck out. Parker Denny hit for a single, but Wrabel got greedy and was gunned down at the plate from the shortstop for the third out. The ninth inning saw three runs cross the plate as Busher struggled to get outs. Matt finally got out of the inning with the score tied, 4-4.
The bottom of the ninth was a perfect example of the final couple weeks of the Pioneers season. Their fate was in their hands, a run and they move into third place. Henneman reached on an error by the first baseman before Andrew Sexton sac bunted to move the runner along. Trae Harmon made his first appearance into the game and was intentionally walked. Jeff Mejia who has caught fire as the leadoff hitter came up to the plate. Mejia hit a sharp ground ball to the second baseman that looked routine and somehow got underneath his glove rolling into the outfield which allowed Henneman to come around and score the game winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning.
The Pioneers will play on Thursday at Geneva at 7:05 pm in a one game playoff for the right to move on to the Western Division Finals!