ELMIRA, NY- The first place Elmira Pioneers took on their rivals in the West on Thursday night, and action got underway immediately. Victor struck first in the top of the first off of sack fly from left fielder Mark Cardinalli (UC Davis) which brought Dale Wickham (Cornell) home after he reached base on a walk from pitcher Nate Matheson (Old Dominion).
Elmira would respond in the third with a run of their own after Will Larue (Xavier) hit a shallow single and moved over on a stolen base, his 21st of the season. After Christian Santisteban (Manhattan) was walked, Larue came home on a Tyler Plantier (UC San Diego) single to shallow centerfield, tying the game.
The bases were loaded in the fifth for Victor after Matheson walked two and Dale Wickham bunted. Cardinalli stepped up to the plate next, and smashed one to right centerfield. The ball flew over the fence for a Grand Slam, bringing the score to 5-1.
Elmira began narrowing the gap caused by the grand slam immediately, getting to work in the bottom of the 5th. Plantier was walked, and was moved to second off a single from Tommy Mirabelli (Kansas). Designated hitter Sam Clark (Bucknell) then stepped up to the plate and hit a single to right field to bring Plantier home. After a Josh Lovelady (Mississippi State) walk, Keegan Maronpot reached on a hit by pitch with the bases home, bringing Mirabelli home and making the score 5-3.
Victor brought one more run in the top of the sixth after first baseman Nick Boland (Saitnt Leo) hit a single He was advanced to third on an error from Plantier, and Wickham hit a single to centerfield to bring him home.
The tide began to turn in the seventh inning, when Sam Clark hit a single, and was advanced on a single from Lovelady. Mike Korchak (Bucknell) then came in to pinch run for Clark. Maronpot hit a sack bunt and moved Korchak and Lovelady over. Taylor Hillson (Mansfield) then stepped and hit a single, bringing Korchak home. Hillson then stole second, putting runners on both second and third. Hayes then smashed a double to the first baseman, who was unable to field. This brought Lovelady and Hillson home, and tied the game.
The Pioneers took the lead in the eighth inning after a pair of errors from Victor. The action started when Mirabelli was hit by a pitch and advanced to second off of a sacrifice bunt. With two outs, Maronpot advanced to second on an error from the Victor shortstop, scoring Mirabelli. Hillson then hit a fly that the catcher could not handle, and brought home Maronpot. This brought the game to its final score of 8-6 in favor of the Pioneers.
Ryan Bellomo (Siena) had the win for Elmira with four strikeouts. Taking the loss for Victor, was Matthew Boone, who allowed three earned runs at the mound.
USA Weekend continues this Friday and Saturday with an Elm Chevrolet mini-bats giveaway tomorrow, and stadium horns courtesy of M&M Auto this Saturday. For tickets to either game, visit the Pioneers front office at 546 Luce Street or call 607-734-2690. For more information on your Elmira Pioneers, visit theelmirapioneers.com.