IMG_4340Pedro Ciriaco (photo) began the bottom of the 9th with a double — the second time in the game he had ripped a double down the left field line and into the corner.� Brian Friday followed the double with his 5th triple of the season, a long fly to the warning track in front of the 418′ sign in left-center, the deepest part of Victory Field.� Ciriaco scored, and the game was tied, 3-3.� With Friday standing on third base and no outs, the Chiefs elected to intentionally walk both pinch-hitter Mitch Jones, who was batting for Justin Thomas, and top-of-the-order LF Kevin Melillo. Syracuse manager (former Indians’ manager) Trent Jewett changed pitchers at that point, replacing right-handed Adam Carr with lefty Atahualpa Severino, since the next 4 Indians’ batters were all left-handed hitters.

While Severino was taking his warm-up throws, Syracuse RF Pete Orr swapped out his outfielder’s glove for an infielders’ glove, and took up a position about mid-way between first base and second base, becoming an extra right-sided infielder.� With one out and his infielders crowding the right side, Severino first faced 3B Akinori Iwamura. Iwamura popped out to third base, with the infield fly rule invoked.� The defense remained in the same position for Alex Presley.�� But Presley avoided all the infielders, and lined a 1-1 pitch over the third baseman’s head and into left field, driving in Brian Friday with the winning run.� Justin Thomas was charged with a Blown Save, but he was also the pitcher of record and was given his 4th win.

IMG_4325Mike Crotta (photo) made the start for the Indians.� He pitched 6 shutout innings, allowing 6 hits and striking out 6 batters.� Crotta had to get himself out of a jam in the top of the 1st.� Lead-off batter Boomer Whiting opened the game with a grounder through the hole at short and into left field.� Danny Espinosa gave Crotta the gift of a little tap back to the mound, which Crotta snatched up, whirled and started a 1-6-3 double play (Crotta to Ciriaco to Bowker).� Former Indy Indian 3B Brian Bixler beat out an infield hit, when Brian Friday was able to make a diving stop on Bixler’s grounder, but couldn’t get the ball to first base fast enough.� Crotta walked 1B Jason Botts, then struck out C Wilson Ramos to end the tricky inning without a run scoring.

Crotta worked around another infield single, this one by Pete Orr, in the 2nd inning, including two more strikeouts.� The 3rd inning began with Whiting beating out a bunt for a single.� The next two batters, Espinosa and Bixler, both grounded out, then Crotta walked Botts again.� Ramos again ended the inning, this time with a grounder to short for the force out on Botts at second.

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IMG_4355Crotta zipped through his next three innings.� He retired the side in order in the 4th.� He struck out the first two batters he faced in the 5th, then Espinosa lined into left-center field.� Espinosa was thinking two bases, but LF Kevin Melillo was thinking NO WAY.� Melillo’s throw to second base was in time for Brian Friday to make the tag, and Espinosa was out, ending the inning.� Brian Bixler hit his second single of the game to lead-off the 6th inning, beating out the throw from Aki Iwamura on a grounder to third.� Bixler promptly stole second base, and he moved to third on a ground out, but a strikeout and two ground outs left him standing on third at the end of the inning.

Corey Hamman (photo) relieved Crotta to begin the 7th inning.� He worked around a one-out double by Michael Martinez, leaving Martinez stranded on second base.

The Indians’ batters had a little more luck against Syracuse starter Andrew Kown.� After going down in order in the 1st inning, the Tribe posted 3 consecutive hits in the 2nd, scoring one run.� With one out, John Bowker lined a single into center field.� C Erik Kratz slipped a grounder through the hole at short for a single, moving Bowker to second base.� Pedro Ciriaco brought in Bowker with a grounder just barely inside the left field line and all the way down to the left field corner.� Brian Friday walked to load the bases, but a strikeout by Mike Crotta and a ground out to first by Kevin Melillo ended the inning.� Indians up, 1-0.

IMG_4339Kown retired the Indians in order in the next two innings.� Brian Friday led off the 5th with a single lined into right field.� Mike Crotta fouled off two bunt attempts, then dropped one successfully on the edge of the infield grass, moving Friday to second base.� But Friday was thrown out trying to steal third base, and the threat was ended.

Back-to-back line drive singles by Alex Presley and Brandon Moss began the 6th inning.� Kown got John Bowker to fly out to left field, but the speedy Presley was still able to tag up and reach third base on the play.� Moss advanced to second base on the throw in from left field to third base.� Kown walked Erik Kratz (photo), and that was the end of his night.� Joe Bisenius came on to relieve Kown.� The first batter Bisenius faced was Pedro Ciriaco, who took a fly ball to deep center field.� It was very playable, but it was deep, and Presley had no trouble tagging up from third base and scored standing up on the play, to give the Indians a 2-0 lead.� A passed ball allowed Kratz to move up to second base, thought it was not far enough away from the plate to let Moss try to score.� Brian Friday walked, loading the bases again, but pinch-hitter Jonathan Van Every popped out to end the inning.

In the top of the 8th, Corey Hamman came back out to begin the inning, but after walking Danny Espinosa, Hamman was relieved by Steven Jackson. With Brian Bixler at the plate, Espinosa stole both second and third bases.�� When Bixler singled for the third time in the game, Espinosa scored easily.� Jackson tried to pick Bixler off first, but his throw came in low and got past John Bowker, putting Bixler on second base.� Jackson struck out Jason Botts, intentionally walked Wilson Ramos, then struck out 2B Seth Bynum.� Manager Frank Kremblas elected to bring in lefty Justin Thomas to face left-handed hitting Pete Orr, and Orr also struck out to end the top of the 8th.� When Syracuse reliever Collin Balester retired the Indians in order in the bottom of the 8th, the game went into the crazy 9th inning.

IMG_4333The win gives the Indians a 5-1 lead in the season series against Syracuse, with two more games to be played between the two.

Indians Hitting Gem of the Game:� The game-tying triple by Brian Friday and the game-winning single by Alex Presley (photo) in the bottom of the 9th.

Indians’ Defensive Gems of the Game:� Beginning and End –The double play started by Mike Crotta in the top of the 1st on a little tap back to the mound, and the long run and catch by Alex Presley on Carlos Maldonado’s fly out in the 9th.

NOTES and photos:

The Indians wore special red jerseys tonight, to honor Rich Johnson, a former Vice President of Clarian Health Partners and part of the Simon Cancer Center, which is affiliated with the Indiana University School of Medicine.� When Johnson passed away from kidney cancer, his family started the enRich Foundation, to raise money for kidney cancer research.� The red jerseys were auctioned off during the game, with all the proceeds going to the foundation.

Jonathan Van Every and Jean Machi:

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Mike Crotta and the dugout:

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John Bowker, and Pedro Ciriaco with Brian Bixler standing on second base:

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Kevin Melillo and Doug Bernier

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Frank Kremblas and the dugout again

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Brandon Moss, and Alex Presley and Aki Iwamura in the dugout

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John Bowker and Brandon Moss on deck, and Mike Crotta prepares to bunt

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Erik Kratz and Jason Jaramillo;� Joe Martinez and Chris Jakubauskas in the dugout

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The Famous Chicken and his little birds hex the Chiefs’ dugout;� Mitch Jones

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The Chicken tells Jonathan Van Every that HE will be coaching first base now;� Steven Jackson

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Justin Thomas;� The Chicken plays around with Brian Bixler

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Go Tribe!

(photos by Nancy)

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