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Diamond Hoppers Win 6-5 in 10 Innings

By Steve Marowski

Eastside Diamond Hoppers 6 vs. Utica Unicorns 5

Utica — The Utica Unicorns and Eastside Diamond Hoppers went into extra innings on Saturday, May 20, but it was Diamond Hoppers center fielder Brendan O’Brien who came up with the walk-off fielder’s choice.

With the bases loaded in the bottom of the tenth inning, O’Brien hit a soft ground ball to Unicorns second baseman Mike Rampone. Rampone’s throw pulled Jovan Hernandez off of home plate and allowed the winning run to score.

“I was just looking for anything over the plate,” O’Brien said. “With the bases loaded and one out, you don’t want to be up there looking at pitches.”

The Unicorns got off to an early 1-0 lead on a leadoff home run by Taylor Grzelakowski. However, the Diamond Hoppers answered with a two-run home run by John Menken in the bottom of the second inning.

The Diamond Hoppers extended their lead to 4-1 after a double by Esteban Gomez in the bottom of the third.

In the fourth inning, Unicorns designated hitter Nicco Lollio hit an RBI groundout cut the lead to 4-2. In the fifth, Unicorns right fielder Chris Cruz hit a solo home run to right field to make it a 4-3 game, and he grounded out in the seventh which scored the tying run. Cruz went 2-4 with three RBI’s and two runs scored in the loss.

“It was a clean, well-played and well-executed game on both sides,” Diamond Hoppers Manager Paul Noce said. “That was a baseball game, and we happened to come out on top.”

Diamond Hoppers left fielder Chris Power went 2-4 and scored a run, and shortstop Ricky Castro was also 2-4.

“Two of our wins have been walk-offs, so that’s exciting,” said Noce. “These guys are going to believe in themselves and what they can do.”

Upcoming Games

Sunday, May 21, Birmingham-Bloomfield Beavers vs. Westside Woolly Mammoths, 1:35 p.m. (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

Thursday, May 25, Birmingham-Bloomfield Beavers vs. Eastside Diamond Hoppers, 7:05 p.m. (Boy Band Night/Thirsty Thursday/Memorial Day Weekend All-You-Can-Eat Buffet)

Friday, May 26, Westside Woolly Mammoths vs. Utica Unicorns, 7:05 p.m. (Fireworks Friday/Memorial Day Weekend All-You-Can-Eat Buffet)