Paints even series
The Washington Wild Things squandered an opportunity Thursday night to carry a two-game lead on the road in its Frontier League playoff series with the Chillicothe Paints, who scored an 8-7 comeback victory in 11 innings at Falconi Field in Washington.
Pinch-hitter Doug Dreher’s sacrifice fly scored John Ramistella with the go-ahead run in the top of the 11th and the Paints held on to tie the best-of-5 Eastern Division championship series at 1-1.
The Wild Things led, 7-1, before being shut out by four Chillicothe pitchers over the final seven innings.
The series shifts to Chillicothe, Ohio, tonight for the third game and Saturday for a fourth before possibly returning to Falconi Field on Sunday night for a deciding Game 5.
In the Western Division, Kalamazoo defeated Rockford, 4-1, to even the best-of-5 series at 1-1.
While the Wild Things and Paints were slugging it out on the field — the teams combined for 31 hits — more than $5,000 was collected in the stands for the benefit of relief efforts in the northern Gulf Coast states following the devestation of Hurricane Katrina.
Chillicothe’s 11th-inning rally began when Ramistella led off with a bunt single against loser Stephen Spragg and stole second. Steve Martin sacrificed Ramistella to third and Jose Rodriguez was hit by a pitch.
Wild Things manager John Massarelli brought on closer Jim Popp, who yielded Dreher’s deep fly down the left-field line to score Ramistella.
Chillicothe, trailing 7-1, began its comeback with a four-run uprising in the fifth, ignited by Ramistella’s two-run home run, a drive over the scoreboard in left field.
The homer was Ramistella’s 21st of the season.
Single runs in the sixth and seventh pulled the Paints even at 7-7.
The Wild Things, who set a Frontier League record for regular-season victories (63), jumped to a 3-0 lead against Chillicothe starter Perry Cunningham in the first.
After Chillicothe got a run back in the second against Washington starter Matt Brumit, the Wild Things took a 7-1 lead with a fourth-run outburst in the fourth, highlighted by Matt Swope’s two-run double.
Trailing 7-5, Chillicothe scored a run in the sixth on an RBI single by Ramistella, who was 5 for 6, and came all the way back to tie it with a run in the seventh on on an RBI double by Juan Downing, who was 4 for 6.
Both teams wasted opportunities to take the lead in the late innings before Chillicothe finally broke through. The Wild Things stranded a runner at second after Chillicothe’s winning pitcher Jeremy Durkee ended the threat by striking out Mike Arbinger and Randy McGarvey.