By Ryan Decker
MOORESVILLE, NC – The Charlotte Crushers (17-18) hadn’t beaten the Mooresville Spinners (28-10) in over four years heading into Tuesday night’s game at Moor Park.
It looked again as if Mooresville was going to pull the rabbit out of the hat, loading the bases in the bottom of the eighth inning and trailing by just one run.
The rabbit never appeared this time.
A bang-bang play at first base preserved the Crushers lead going into the ninth inning, which Charlotte extended and went on to win by a final score of 5-3, upsetting the CVCL Western Division-leading Spinners.
“It was a tough game, it came down to the wire,” Crushers head coach Orland Barrios said. “The extra run does make a big difference.”
Reliever Joseph Hope entered the game in the bottom of the eighth for Charlotte, following seven solid innings on the mound by starter Myles Levy, with the Crushers ahead 4-3.
Hope gave up a one-out single and walked two batters with an out in between, loading up the bases with two outs, but with the Spinners trailing by just one.
Austin Fox hit a ground ball sharply to first base, which was bobbled by first baseman Rashaad Webster. Webster was able to bare hand the ball and flip it to the covering Hope, who was just able to put his right foot down on the bag ahead of Fox’s for the final out of the eighth, and keeping the Spinners off the board.
“I was just PFP, sticking with the baseball, happened to be where I needed to be” Hope said. “It was just a great feeling. I wanted to be there for my team.”
Justin Williams then led off the ninth inning with a walk and advanced to second on a passed ball.
That ended up being the difference maker in the inning.
Max Barrios sacrificed Williams to third with a bunt, and Williams crossed home on a ground ball put in play by Josh Hollifield that Fox wasn’t able to handle at short, giving the Crushers a 5-3 lead.
Chris Isaac came in for the save in the bottom of the ninth, ending the game with a strikeout.
“The guy’s been shutdown, lights out, all year long,” Barrios said of Isaac. “The kid’s got ice in his veins. He just goes up there and shuts it down. No big deal to him.”
The Crushers got the scoring started in the top of the first on a broken-bat single by Miles Marshall.
After Mooresville took the lead in the third, Charlotte took it right back in the fourth.
Williams smacked a bases-clearing, three-run double to left-center field that put the Crushers in front 4-2.
Spinner catcher Sean Parlee cut the deficit in half with a single in the bottom of the frame, but that was all the scoring Mooresville would do.
Charlotte once again got a strong outing on the mound by starter Myles Levy. Levy surrendered all three Spinner runs but did so while only needing 85 pitches to get through seven innings.
He gave up seven hits but stranded six runners on base. The game marks Levy’s sixth win of the season.
Four years in the making
This is the first win for the Crushers over the Spinners in four years.
Prior to Tuesday’s game, Mooresville was 2-0 against Charlotte this season, outscoring the Crushers 17-5.
Defensive play of the game
As good as the teamwork by Webster and Hope was in the bottom of the eighth in a pressure situation, the defensive play of the game for the Crushers came much earlier in the game.
Levy’s throw, attempting to pick off Seth Hartings at first base, went wide of the bag and skipped down the right-field line.
Starting first baseman Sam De La Cruz tracked the ball down and fired a bullet to Hollifield at third, who applied the tag for the third out of the first inning.
This play occurred with Mooresville clean-up hitter, Luke Jackson, at the plate.