Bend has shown the ability to rally late in the first two games of this series with the Vigilantes but each time the lead was too great to overcome.
But that wasn’t the case Thursday night as Bend scored three times in the ninth to beat the Vigilantes, 4-3, in a Western League game at Saddleback College in front of an announced crowd of 2,048.
Bernie Nunez delivered the crushing blow, a two-out, two-run homer to erase a 3-2 lead. The homer came off the first pitch from reliever Josh Gingrich, who was making his first appearance for the Vigilantes. Gingrich attended Edison High and Orange Coast College.
“I don’t even know what [pitch] I hit,” designated hitter Nunez said. “I just went up there wanting to make contact. I wasn’t sure if it was out of the park, but when I saw the center fielder give up I knew I had it.”
But from the Vigilantes’ point of view, it was a pitch that should have never been thrown.
Starter Paul Anderson took a 3-1 lead into the ninth and had retired 20 of 21. But Bend figured to be tough in the last inning, having scored two runs in that inning in Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s games. The Vigilantes won those games, 6-4 and 7-4.
Anderson gave up a one-out single to Brian Conley but still had a chance to end the game when Gary Mota (Fullerton College) hit a sharp grounder that could have been a double play. Shortstop Mike Moutrey fielded it and got it to second baseman Chris Ashbach but his relay throw was wide of first, allowing Mota to advance to second.
Aaron Magdelano replaced Anderson, who gave up four hits and two unearned runs, and balked Mota to third. Magdelano then got Marcus McGowan to hit a grounder to Ashbach that could also have ended the game. But it went between his legs for the Vigilantes’ fourth error and Mota scored.
That enabled Nunez to come up and hit his sixth home run.
The Vigilantes (13-18) tried to stage a ninth-inning rally when Carl Nichols singled and Reuben Smiley reached on an error with one out. But Lonny Stare hit into a force play and Corey Parker grounded out to short to end it. Ben Burlingame (1-4) got the complete-game victory, giving up seven hits and three earned runs.
Smiley had a single and double and scored two runs and Stare and Ashbach had run-scoring singles for the Vigilantes.
It was only the third road victory in 13 games for Bend (11-20) and stopped the Vigilantes’ modest two-game winning steak.
The loss also dropped the Vigilantes seven games behind first-place Sonoma County, keeping them tied for last with Salinas.
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VIGILANTES ON DECK
Time--7 tonight and Saturday,; 1 p.m. Sunday
Radio--KKSM (1320-AM, 87.9-FM)
Records--Chukars 21-10, Vigilantes 13-18
Vigilante update--Mission Viejo signed former Chapman outfielder Dustin Martin, who also played at Golden West. Closer Kirk Kishita (2-1 with five saves) is available for the series after serving a two-game suspension for his part in the fight with Bend Tuesday. Steven Ceterko picked up his first two saves in Kishita’s absence.
Chukar update--Reno, the first-place team in the Northern Division, should provide a much more difficult challenge than last-place Bend, Ore. Through 30 games, Reno leads the league in hitting at .329. Todd Takayoshi is tops in the league with a .391 average and 11 doubles. But the Chukars are also last in earned-run average at 5.75 and have also allowed a league-worst 36 home runs.