Double The Fun
O’Donnell’s Walk-Off Hit Carries Jammers Past Geneva
Alex O’Donnell doesn’t find himself among the team leaders in batting average, but Jamestown coach Anthony Barone sure doesn’t mind having him at the plate with the game on the line.
”He’s clutch,” Barone said.
O’Donnell (Mercyhurst University) proved it in the bottom of the ninth inning Wednesday night when he laced a walk-off, two-run double to send the Jammers to a thrilling 5-4 come-from-behind victory over Geneva in a Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League contest before 489 fans at Diethrick Park.
The win raised Jamestown’s record to 28-11 and pushed its lead over Geneva (23-16) to five games in the East Division.
“It’s a big win for us,” Barone said. “Our approach is just to lock this division up as soon as we can. We’re going to play hard the rest of the way. I know these guys in this locker room. They’re not going to take a day off.”
Last night, the Jammers were down to their final three outs, but found a way to pull out the victory.
Chris Stefl (St. John’s University) started the ninth-inning rally by singling with one out. Ryan Markey (St. John’s) pinch-ran for him and Christ Conley (Canisius College) followed with a walk against losing pitcher Garrett Uhl (University of Texas-Dallas). Colby Mullins (Andrew College) was called in to face O’Donnell, who drilled an 0-1 pitch down the right field line, which allowed both Markey and Conley to score, setting off a wild celebration.
“Most of the year he’s been trying to pull everything,” Barone said. “We’ve been working really hard to stay away and use the other field. That’s what hard work does and when you accept coaching, which he does. He came up big there.”
Although he’s hitting just .221, O’Donnell has driven in 28 runs on the season, which is tied for third on the team.
“He’s been around this organization for three years,” Barone said. “It doesn’t matter statistically, he’s a guy I want up in that situation. His teammates trust him, I trust him. It couldn’t happen to a better kid who has put in so much work and effort.”
O’Donnell, who also had a sacrifice fly in the seventh, said he felt just right against Mullins, the last of four Red Wings’ pitchers.
“I was looking to stay simple at the plate, think middle and just drop a base hit, because I knew it would score (the tying run),” O’Donnell said. “It ended up working out the way that it did. I’ll take that.”
Until the dramatic rally, Geneva appeared to be on the verge of closing to within three games in the division race. A two-run single by Dominic Toso (Bucknell University) off Jamestown starter Quinn Taylor (Felician University) staked the Red Wings to a 2-0 lead in the third inning. And after the Jammers tied the game in the fourth, courtesy of a Skyler Valentine (University of Texas-San Antonio) two-run home run, Geneva pulled ahead, 4-2, in the fifth on an RBI groundout by Mikey Arman (Kenyon College) and a run-scoring single by Will Simoneit (Cornell University).
Those were all the runs the Red Wings could manage the rest of the way, however, as Westfield native Nolan Hunt (Canisius) and winning pitcher Isaac Meza (CSU Bakersfield) combined to hurl four scoreless innings.
“Our bullpen was huge tonight,” Barone said. “(Hunt) is competitive. He might not have the best stuff every night, but when I put him out on the mound I know what I’m getting. I’m getting a competitive young man who wants to get outs. Same with Meza. Meza was really good out there. Those were huge innings … they gave us.”
Meanwhile, the Jammers closed to within a run in the seventh when Jamestown native Collin Stack (University of Maryland-Baltimore County) and Stefl singled, They both advanced a base on a sacrifice bunt by Christian Deaton (CSU Bakersfield), and Stack scored on O’Donnell’s sacrifice fly.
The score remained 4-3 until O’Donnell’s heroics in the bottom of the ninth.
John Conti (Canisius), Stack and Stefl all had two hits, and Ben Brookover (UTSA) belted a double and scored on Valentine’s homer.
Matt Smith (University of California-Davis), Toso, Simoneit and Justin Etts each had two hits for Geneva.
The Jammers return to action at 7:05 p.m. today when they travel to Newark, before returning home Friday when they’ll face Elmira, also at 7:05 p.m., at Diethrick Park.