Roswell second baseman Christian Johnson finds the sweet spot on the bat as he connects for a two-run homer in the bottom of the second inning of the Invaders 10-9 victory over the Salina Stockade Saturday night at Joe Bauman Stadium (AJ Dickman Photo).
The Invaders took their third win in a row over Salina Saturday with a 10-9 squeaker. But as the score shows, it wasn’t a real easy win.
Still, despite having to hold on by their fingernails at the end, manager Bryan Kloppe remained his optimistic self.
“It’s good to turn on that side of things,” he said. “That’s just baseball. Anything can happen any day.”
The Stockade took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second off starter Blake Oliver on a hit batter, wild pitch, single and error.
Roswell doubled that score in the bottom of the stanza on a two out single by Bobby Webb and no-doubt home run to left by Christian Johnson. The home squad made it 3-1 in the fourth when Cody Coffman walked, was wild pitched to second and came home on a Webb double.
But Salina teed off on Oliver in the fifth, scoring four runs on two singles, a double and a home run to make it 5-2.
The Invaders came back with one in the bottom of the stanza on a double by Woodard, who advanced on a throw then came home on a wild pitch.
In the sixth it seemed like Roswell put the nail in the coffin of Salina with a big six-run inning that saw 10 batters come to the plate, scoring on two walks, four singles — by Coffman, pinch [auth] hitter Bryce Skelton, Rene Moreda and Kaohu Gaspar — and a hit batter.
But the Stockade weren’t ready to call it quits, scoring one more run on a double and two singles off Kyle Perez in the seventh, then, after Darnell Thompson allowed no runs in his first pro game to close the eighth — “He did a great job,” Kloppe said — Mike Gomez, Ryan Ward and Thomas Huddleston allowed three more runs in the ninth, with the fans breathing a sigh of relief as a Johnson to Smith throw got the final out.
The quick pitching changes were intentional, Kloppe said.
“It was just situational against the batters. We just had a plan going and implemented it.”
The Invaders only tallied 10 hits in the game, led by Coffman and Webb, who were each 2-for-3 with two runs.
They’ll close out the series against the Kansas squad Sunday with Ryan Calby taking the mound, and if they can sweep the Stockade, they’ll have a four-game win streak that takes them into the All-Star break Monday.
Roswell closed out the night with a home-run hitting contest to see who will represent the Invaders at the Pecos League All-Star home run hitting contest. The winner was not decided at press time, as balls were still flying over the fence at Joe Bauman Stadium.
Invaders 10, Salina 9
The Roswell Invaders returned home Thursday after a long road trip and two-day break, and for a long while it looked like the break didn’t do them any good.
The Roswell bats were fairly ineffective until late in the game, and the pitching gave up eight runs in the third to make it 9-1 Salina. But luckily, the late-inning relief pitching held and the hitting finally came around, giving the Invaders a 10-9 victory.
“We came out a little sluggish,” said field manager Bryan Kloppe. “We took two days off but we held them there and worked our way back.”
They did that, almost 4.5 hours after the game started.
The first three innings were scoreless on both sides, with neither pitcher showing his best stuff but keeping the opposition scoreless.
The Stockade put the first run on the board in the top of the fourth with a double and single, then Roswell came back in the bottom of the stanza, scoring on two hit batters, a single by Cody Coffman and a wild pitch.
Then came the fifth inning, which was as bad as Roswell’s had all year.
Starter TJ Pruneda gave up four runs on a single, double, triple, hit batter, an error and sacrifice fly.
Thomas Huddlestone then came in and only got one out, walking three and giving up two singles for four more runs.
Kyle Perez got the final out in the stanza but the damage was done and the crowd quiet.
“We haven’t had that all year,” Kloppe said. “So we worked through it and got out of it eventually and held them there.”
But the Invaders couldn’t seem to bring in more than one run an inning, no matter how many runners reached base, making things look, if not dire, at least a bit worrisome.
They scored one in the bottom of the fifth when Rene Moreda walked, advanced on two wild pitches and scored on a error.
Two more walks followed that but both runners were stranded.
They left three on in the third, scoring only one run on three walks and a bases loaded hit batter. Through six, Roswell only had three runs on three hits.
They got a fourth hit in the seventh and brought in two — closing the gap to 9-5 — but both runs came on wild pitches and two batters were stranded.
The first Roswell run on a hit came in the eighth, when Kaohu Gaspar and Cody Coffman both doubled. Coffman then came in on a two out error, closing the gap to 9-7. And the 10th is when Roswell took the lead and victory, taking two walks then getting the win on a pair of singles — Brett Balkan and Gaspar — and a huge one-out double by Cody Coffman that had the third baseman leaping for joy as he rounded the bases.
“That was awesome,” Kloppe said, who was maybe happier with the overall hitting. “Just good at bats all night. We wore their starter down. Just consistently put together good at-bat after good at-bat.”
And about those 15 runners left on base?
“That’s a lot, but that’s a sign of a good team,” he said.
Three Invaders led the way on offense. With only nine total hits, Gaspar was 2-for-3 with one run and 2 RBIs; Coffman 3-for-6 with a run and 2 RBIs; and Balkan 2-for-3 with a run.