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Hoskins' game-winning hit set up by Tromp, Brown

July 23, 2014 - Mitch Rupert
Rhys Hoskins received all the publicity for Tuesday night's win over Batavia. Rightfully so.

His two-run double with two outs in the ninth inning won the game. But it was because of the two hitters ahead of him in the lineup that he was able to have the opportunity to drive in the winning runs.

Jiandido Tromp and Aaron Brown both had the ability to tie, or win, Tuesday's game with one swing when they stepped in the box with two outs in the ninth inning. Both could have easily put their head down and given their at-bat away trying to do just that.

After all, Tromp had already hit two home runs earlier in the game. And Brown was just over a week removed from homering over the scoreboard in right field at Bowman Field.

But there was no change in either Williamsport hitter's approach. Tromp singled past the shortstop on a rocket on the first pitch he saw. Brown followed with a smooth, easy pass through the baseball on a 0-1 pitch and drove it to left-center to put the tying and winning runs on base, setting up Hoskins' heroics.

“Brown and Tromp had two great at-bats,” Hoskins said after the win. “Two line drives. Two good swings.”

It would have been easy for the Cutters to settle for another tough loss, much like the other ones they had endured during a 2-8 stretch prior to Tuesday's win. By the time Tromp and Brown got to the plate, the loss seemed inevitable after the bullpen had blown a three-run lead in the eighth inning.

Tromp changed the thinking, though, with his two-out single – his fourth hit of the night. Brown put a little excitement back into the 1,000 or so people left in the stands from the announced attendance of 1,914 with his single as he put the tying run on second with a plus runner.

And much like the two hitters in front of him, Hoskins took the same approach, just trying to put the game in the hands of the next hitter, Wilmer Oberto. Oberto never had to step in the box, though, as Hoskins' drive to right-center hit the warning track allowing Tromp and Brown to score easily, setting off a walk-off celebration by second base.

“I sound like a broken record, but that's what we've been doing all year. It seems like we always have the tying run up late. Guys don't quit,” Cutters manager Rhys Hoskins said. “(Tromp and Brown) will give you good at-bats, and their swings are as aggressive as anything. They're going to give you all they got and they put two good swings on it there, and Hoskins finished it off. It was huge, to say the least.”

GUELLER GOOD ENOUGH

There was no mistaking Mitch Gueller's start Tuesday for one of his better ones of the year. But the 20-year old Williamsport right-hander did put in a solid effort in the Cutters' 6-5 walk-off win over Batavia.

Without his best stuff, Gueller pitched. It seems like a simple term considering that's what he's paid by the Philadelphia Phillies to do, but it's part of a big step the former supplemental first-round draft pick has taken this year.

He was able to find ways to get outs on a night where he couldn't get a borderline call with his fastball. He found ways to get outs when he struggled to locate a slider which has become a true plus pitch for him. And he found ways to get outs even with a change-up he still doesn't quite trust.

“When he has success, that's what he does,” Cutters manager Shawn Williams said following the game. “I think he's almost better off when he doesn't have his best stuff because then he starts using his slider more and his change-up more and pitching backwards. He does whatever he can to get outs.”

Gueller didn't record a strikeout for the second time this year, but this result worked out far better than the first time when he allowed six runs in four innings against Jamestown in his second start of the year.

This time he gutted his way through six innings with just one hiccup. He gave up a two-out RBI double to Wildert Pujols in the fourth inning. But otherwise the Muckdogs were held scoreless with Gueller on the mound. His final pitch of the night induced a nifty 6-4-3 double play turned by Emmanuel Marrero, Drew Stankiewicz and Rhys Hoskins. They were two of the eight groundball outs Gueller recorded.

He finished the night allowing five hits in six innings, walking just two. He threw 46 of his 74 pitches for strikes and threw first-pitch strikes ot 13 of the 23 batters he faced.

“He competed,” Hoskins said. “If you pitch in the zone and don't walk guys, it keeps the defense involved and you're awake on defense and you make more plays because of it.”

“Last year compared to this year, he is completely different,” Williams said. “Last year he would have gone ahead and kept sticking with his fastball. Now, if this isn't working, I'll try this. And if this isn't working, I'll do here. He'll do whatever he can to get as many outs as possible.”

SLUMP BUSTING

Cord Sandberg went 2 for 4 in Tuesday's win over Batavia, snapping an 0 for 23 streak over his previous six games. It was a stretch which saw the 19-year old knocked out of his spot as the Williamsport leadoff hitter.

They weren't exactly line drive hits Tuesday for Sandberg, who saw his average fall to a season-low .246 following Monday's game at Brooklyn. It was a bleeder up the middle which sneaked its way into center field, and it was an infield single on a swinging bunt in the eighth inning which snapped the funk.

Sandberg also didn't strike out Tuesday for only the third time in his last 14 games. Since his 12-game hitting streak to start the season ended on June 26, Sandberg is hitting just .182, the sixth-worst batting average over that time in the New York-Penn League for qualifying hitters.

 
 

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