by Mike Potter
Today the Bulls will play their last Saturday afternoon home game of the season.
Southpaw Alex Torres (2-2, 1.78) will go for the Bulls against Yunesky Maya on a mild and cloudy day.
And Felipe Lopez, designated for assignment from Tampa Bay, is making his first start of the season for the Bulls at third base.
What happens in the end turns out to be the stuff of legend, as the Bulls score four runs in the bottom of the 11th inning to escape with a 6-5 victory.
The starting pitchers go with matching zeroes until the bottom of the sixth inning. Desmond Jennings strokes a one-out single to first, followed by an RBI double to left center from Justin Ruggiano. With two out and following a Chris Carter walk, Russ Canzler’s single to right makes it 2-0.
The rehabilitating J.P. Howell relieves Torres after the sixth.
Syracuse ties it off Jake McGee with one out in the eighth, as Alex Valdez launches an 0-1 pitch over the Blue Monster wall in left for a two-run homer.
The Bulls get a chance to end it in the 10th as Ray Olmedo singles and advances on Jennings’ bunt, but is gunned down at the plate on Ruggiano’s single to center.
Syracuse takes advantage in the 11th. Corey Brown follows a one-out walk to Carlos Maldonado by greeting R.J. Swindle with a solid homer to right on an 0-1 pitch. The Chiefs score another run later in the frame on Jhonatan Solano’s single.
But the three-run lead isn’t enough. Carter greets J.D. Martin with a long homer to center, and then Canzler walks before Adam Carr relieves Martin with one out. Leslie Anderson singles to right and J.J. Furmaniak comes on to pinch run for him. Then with two out Olmedo walks to load the bases and then Jennings walks to put the tying run on second. Ruggiano then hits a long fly ball to center that is just long enough to get past sprinting center fielder Boomer Whiting to score two and start the celebration.
Ruggiano finishes 4-for-6 with a pair of doubles and three RBI as the Bulls outhit the Chiefs 11-10.
They said it …
Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo: “I’ve never seen that. Usually when a team has a chance to win it and doesn’t score and the other team scores three it’s over. I don’t ever remember coming back and scoring four in extra innings. Ruggiano has been clutch. He’s a good player. One of these days somebody is going to give him a chance. He’s doing what it takes. The moment Jennings walked I was saying ‘Here it comes.’ I just hoped it wasn’t hit too hard because I was going to send the runner.
Ruggiano: “That was fun. I wasn’t sure if I was going to get an opportunity to do that, but everyone had good at-bats in the last inning. It was big. We’ve got a lot of scrappers. We grind through at bats, and our pitchers scrap whether they’re having good days or bad days. Torres was phenomenal tonight. He went up and put up a zero.”
Torres: “I felt very good. I pitched six innings and felt OK. My changeup was really working good. And I really enjoyed watching that comeback.”
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Ruggiano’s game-winning hit.
Bulls lead 3-0.
Bulls: Won 4.
Syracuse: Lost 3.
Bulls (Brian Baker 0-1, 6.23) vs. Syracuse (Ross Detwiler 2-1, 4.33), Sunday, 5:05 p.m.