After dropping two of their three games last week and falling to 15-17-2 on the season, the Destroyers bounced back with a home win Monday in a pivotal matchup with the Oilers.
At home on Wednesday, July 10, the Destroyers fell to Olean 10-5. To start, Jake Spillane kept the game close in seven innings of work from the mound. Spillane allowed just two earned runs and struck out six batters.
After allowing two runs in the second, Mansfield took the lead in the third inning. With two outs and Colton Evans and Grant Vera on base, Devan Nail hit a single to left field that scored Evans for the Destroyers’ first run of the evening.
Tim Carroll stepped in the batter’s box after Nail and knocked a double to left field plating both Vera and Evans.
Already leading 3-2, the Destroyers extended their lead in the sixth with another run.
But, with two innings to play, Olean was far from finished. After being held scoreless since the second inning, the Oilers offense came back to life in the eighth. Capitalizing on two hits and a defensive error by the Destroyers the Oilers put four runs across the plate and took their first lead since the second inning.
Mansfield scored one more run in the bottom of the eighth, but trailed Olean 6-5 heading into the last inning. The Oilers put another four runs on the board with five hits in the top of the inning to take a five run lead. Mansfield didn’t have an answer in their last at-bat and recorded their 16th loss of the season.
The next night, Mansfield bounced back with a win against Genesee. It was a back and forth contest as the teams traded scores throughout. In the sixth inning, the Rapids scored their fifth run to even the score with three innings of play left.
In the bottom of the eighth with Andrew Walker on first, number 35, Nail, stepped into the batter’s box. With a 2-2 count, Nail unloaded on the next pitch by Genesee’s Mike Pyers. The ball sailed over the fence for Nail’s third home run of the season and lifted Mansfield to a 7-5 victory.
The Destroyers followed the win with a road trip to Niagara on Saturday to square off with the league leading Niagara Power.
Mansfield got on the board first with three runs in the third. Despite trailing early, Niagara showed why they are in first place as they amassed 14 runs over the final five innings. Mansfield plated just one more run in that time and fell 14-4 for their 17th loss of the season.
The loss dropped Mansfield to third place in the Western division behind Niagara and Olean. But, the Destroyers had a chance for redemption Monday when they hosted the Oilers in a game with major playoff implications.
Brandon Quigley started on the mound for Mansfield and struggled in the first inning. Quigley walked the first batter he faced and allowed two hits which put two runs on the board.
After the rocky start, Quigley settled into a groove and held the Oilers scoreless throughout the next two innings.
Trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the third, Mansfield got to work on offense. Michael Wein kicked off the monster inning with a double to right field. Number 33, John Wheeler followed Wein at the plate with a single. Austin Schmitt kept the hit train rolling with a single to load the bases for Colton Evans.
Evans made contact on the second pitch of his at-bat, sending the ball to Olean left fielder Zach Hemphill who recorded the out. Wein scored from third on the sacrifice fly for the Destroyers first run of the night.
The Destroyers loaded the bases again after Andrew Walker drew a walk.
Nail, who is second on the team in batting average and RBIs stepped into the batter’s box ready to do damage. On the first pitch, Nail cleared the bases with a double to left field, giving the Destroyers their first lead of the night. Nail would score two batters later on an error by the Olean shortstop.
The Oilers responded with three innings of successful play, putting five runs on the board between the fourth and sixth innings.
After a scoreless seventh, the Oilers tacked on their final run of the night when Jacob Victor knocked in Nate Rush.
Despite allowing Olean to build a three-run lead the Destroyers saved their best for last. The Destroyers capitalized on a miscue by Olean’s catcher and scored two runs to draw within one.
It took focus on offense for the Destroyers to engineer a comeback victory, after Blake Murray and Schmitt returned to the dugout for the first two outs of the inning. Evans started the two-out rally with a double to left field. Walker followed Evans on base with a single to shortstop. For the second time that night, Nail stepped into the batter’s box and connected with the first pitch he saw. The ball traveled to left field scoring Evans and after an error by Hemphill, Walker crossed the plate for the game winning run.
The win lifted Mansfield’s record to 16-17-2, and still third in the division. The Destroyers were back in action Tuesday night with a home game against Genesee.
The Destroyers followed Monday’s dramatic win with a 3-1 home victory against Genesee Tuesday.
Kyle Smith held the Rapids to just one run in a rain shortened five inning contest.
On offense, the Destroyers garnered six hits. A single by Tim Carroll in the third inning put Mansfield ahead. Walker put an insurance run across the plate the next inning with a single to left field that drove in Schmitt from second base.
The dark clouds that were threatening rain from the start of the game finally gave way in the fifth, bringing the on field action to an early conclusion.
The win lifted Mansfield to second place in the Western division standings with just with five games left in the regular season. Mansfield returns home Thursday for a matchup against Niagara before a double header Friday night against Hornell.
The playoffs begin Monday, July 22.