ELMIRA, N.Y. – In the last game before the All-Star break for both squads, the Elmira Pioneers (21-18) bested the Utica Blue Sox (11-24) by a final score of 13-9 at Dunn Field on Sunday evening.
The Pioneers plated three early runs thanks to a slew of hits. Brett Rodriguez (Wofford) scored on a close play at the plate to open the scoring on fielder’s choice by Troy Dixon (Samford). Dixon would be brought around to score immediately when Marshall Gilbert (John A. Logan) doubled off the left-center field fence. Then with Gilbert at third, Allbry Major (Xavier) struck out but the ball got away from the catcher, Mitch Calandra (Eckard), allowing Major to reach first base safely and Gilbert to score.
Utica got one run back immediately in the top of the second when Evan Lee (Ashland) laced a double into the right-center gap scoring Adam LaRock (Iowa) to pull the Blue Sox to within two.
Elmira responded with force in the bottom of the second inning. Dixon took a bases loaded walk to force home a run and then Gilbert drove in his second run of the game with a sacrifice fly. Conor Grammes (Xavier) then brought home two runs with a single to left to push the lead to six. Major then capped off the frame with an RBI single of his own to make the score 8-1.
In the fourth inning, Utica got two runs back thanks to two wild pitches from starting pitcher Danny Madden (St. Bonaventure) and a Rob Andreoli (LIU Post) scored the third run of the inning to make the score 8-4.
The Blue Sox cut the deficit to three in the top of the sixth inning. With two outs and two on, Calandra singled home Kyle Norman (Buffalo) to inch the Blue Sox closer.
Elmira got that run back immediately in the bottom half of the frame. Gilbert picked up his second sacrifice fly of the game and third RBI of the game when he drove home Rodriguez with a fly ball to center.
Utica would again get back to within three runs in the top of the seventh inning. With two outs, Ryan Sargent (Ohio) plated Taylor Olmstead (Southern New Hampshire) to bring the score to 9-6.
The Pioneers once again would answer the Blue Sox rally, this time with three runs in the bottom of the seventh. Major and Brayden Combs (Kentucky) laced back to back doubles off the right field fence to score the first run. With two outs, back to back errors by Utica shortstop LaRock allowed the Pioneers to add two more in the inning.
An insurance run would come across to score in the bottom of the eighth for Elmira. Ayrton Schafer (Samford) picked up a sacrifice fly of his own as he drove home Gilbert making the score 13-6.
Utica would score three times in the ninth inning off of Conor Grammes, thanks to a wild pitch and RBI singles from Lee and Justin Tavares (Mansfield), but their rally would come up short as Grammes was able to turn a 1-6-3 double play, one of four twin killings pulled off by the Pioneers, to end the game with a final score of 13-9.
Madden receives the win for the Pioneers in his first appearance this season. He threw five innings giving up four runs while striking out four as well.
Garrett Keough (Holy Cross) is handed the defeat after only lasting two innings and allowing eight runs.
The Pioneers will be off on Monday and Tuesday as the league takes a hiatus for the All-Star break. The Pioneers will be back in action on Wednesday as they travel to Newark to take on the Pilots at 7:05 at Colburn Park.