Michael Stanton's mammoth home run with one out in the ninth inning snapped a 3-3 tie Saturday night as the visiting Greensboro Grasshoppers edged the Lexington Legends 4-3.
The Legends, who had tied the game on Steve Brown's eighth-inning solo homer, have lost six in a row and are 0-3 in the second half.
”But we're gonna get after it (Sunday) and try to get a win,“ said Matt Cusick, who had three of Lexington's nine hits to raise his average to .305. ”Three games isn't the end of the world here. This team, for all the struggles we've been in, we still believe and we're still confident that the talent's there. We've just got to put it all together.“
The Grasshoppers are 9-0 against the Legends.
Stanton, 0-for-4 with two strikeouts until the ninth, sent his league-leading 18th homer far beyond the left-field bleachers. He was the second batter to face Leandro Cespedes, who is second in the league in homers allowed (15).
”I didn't have a good first four at-bats,“ said Stanton, a 2007 second-round draft pick of the Marlins. ”We had one out, so I was just trying to get a walk or get on base somehow. I just kind of stayed back and leveled my swing out a little bit.“
With the count 3-and-1, Stanton was sitting on a Cespedes fastball.
The Legends went down 1-2-3 in the ninth.
Both starters, left-handers, gave up two runs.
Lexington's Jeff Icenogle worked five innings, giving up four hits, including solo homers by Danny Garcia in the first inning and Matt Dominguez in the fourth.
Icenogle's counterpart, Jay Voss, held the Legends to three singles through four innings but lasted only another third of an inning.
Cusick and Craig Corrado each singled in a run.
After a double steal by Cusick and Corrado, Eric Taylor walked to load the bases with one out.
Eric Basurto replaced Voss. He caught Brian Pellegrini looking at a called third strike over the black of the outside corner. Russell Dixon grounded out on the next pitch.
The Grasshoppers recaptured the lead in the seventh.
Emilio Ontiveros drew a one-out walk. Ryan Curry hit a potential double-play ball to Mike Koons, but the pitcher's throw to second sailed into center field.
Garcia's single to right scored Ontiveros. Bryan Petersen walked, filling the bases with one out for Stanton.
J.J. Pacella came out the bullpen to fan Stanton and get Dominguez on an infield fly.
The Hoppers also left the bases loaded in the eighth.
Brown's seventh homer of the season, a two-out shot to left-center, tied the game.
But Stanton made sure the tie didn't last long.