McGraw comes up big in ninth to save Thunderbirds

Matt McGraw’s RBI double in the top of the ninth gave the Hamilton Thunderbirds a 6-5 victory over the Burlington Twins on Thursday (June 30). The win was the Thunderbirds’ fifth of the season which puts them a half game behind the Twins for seventh place in the Intercounty Baseball League.

Hamilton opened the scoring in the top of the third inning. Jon Saporsantos drew a one-out walk and moved to second on Zach Elbirt’s ground out. Darnell Duckett then tripled with two outs to bring in Saporsantos for the first run of the game.

Burlington would come back in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game at one. Former Thunderbird Adam Cholewka singled to open the inning and was moved to second when Ryan Asis walked. Branson Joseph then moved both runners up 90 feet on a sacrifice bunt. Cholewka would then score on Jeff Kosta’s sacrifice fly to center field.

In the fifth inning, Adam Durfee led off with a double and was moved over to third on Mike Gottschalk’s grounder to second base. Saporsantos then singled to bring in Durfee to give Hamilton a 2-1 lead. The Twins would once again tie the game as Cholewka had a one out trip and scored on Ryan Asis’ fielder’s choice in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Hamilton took the lead once again as they scored three times in the seventh inning. Saporsantos and Zach Elbirt each drew one out walks and then stole a base. Duckett then singled to bring in both runners. With two outs, Dan Jagdeo reached base on an error which saw Duckett score to make it a 5-2 game. Burlington answered back in the bottom half of the inning as Greg Densem singled to open the inning and later scored on Jamie Lekas’ two out single.

For the third time in the game, the Twins would come back and tie it. This time Cholewka opened the inning with a walk and advanced to second base on Asis’ ground out. Joseph then walked to put runners at first and second. Cholewka and Joseph would then steal third and second bases respectfully. Kosta then grounded out which brought in Cholewka. Joseph would then come in to tie the game when Thunderbirds’ relief pitcher Mike Fortuna balked.

Hamilton would take the lead for good in the top of them ninth when Duckett walked to open the inning and scored on Matt McGraw’s double.

Ryan Van Spronsen started for the Thunderbirds going six innings, allowing two runs, one of which was earned, on three hits, walking five and striking out four. Matt Betts relieved Van Spronsen to start the seventh inning where he allowed one run on two hits and walking one. Mike Fortuna would pitch the eighth allowing two earned runs on two walks but earned the win. Nino Fasulo pitched the ninth facing four batters to earn the save.

For Burlington, Kurtis Robinson started the game going five innings, allowing two runs on five hits, walking one and striking out five. Bill Ralston would take to the mound, to relieve Robinson, going one and a third innings allowing three runs, one of them unearned, on one hit, walking three and striking out one. Jon Fitzsimmons took the loss going two and two-thirds innings allowing one run on two hits, walking two and fanning two batters.

Tonight’s game was originally to be broadcast on Cable 14 this Saturday night. However, due to an equipment problem at Burlington Cogeco the game will not be broadcast. The Thunderbirds next game is Sunday July 3rd when they host the Brantford Red Sox starting at 2:00pm at Bernie Arbour Memorial Stadium.