A two-out single in the top of the 10th inning by Chillicothe’s Alex Ludwick drove in Ben Gbur with what proved to be the game-winning run Sunday afternoon as the Paints rallied to defeat the Johnstown Mill Rats 5-4 and earn a split in the two-game weekend series.
Ludwick finished 5-for-6 at the plate for the Paints (4-5), who trailed the Mill Rats (3-7) by one entering the top of the eighth inning before loading the bases on an error, a double by Isaac Bair, and a walk to Gbur.
One out later, Ryley Preece’s sacrifice fly knotted the contest at 4-all.
Johnstown subsequently stranded the go-ahead run at third in the bottom of the frame following Tyler Dellerman’s two-out double, and after Damian Yenzi’s second hit of the game kept the Mill Rats’ hopes alive in the home half of the 10th, winning pitcher Ruben Ramirez struck out Pete Capobianco to close out the game and cap off three innings of scoreless relief.
“This was a ballgame we shouldn’t have lost,” Johnstown manager Parker Lynn said.
“Our pitchers battled and kept us in the game to give us a chance, but we couldn’t find the big hit when we needed it.”
The Mill Rats’ pitching staff had to work itself out of jams most of the afternoon, as the Paints outhit Johnstown 9-6 and left 15 runners on base, helped by nine walks.
Chillicothe jumped out to a two-run lead in the top of the first. After two outs, a hit batsman and an error put runners at second and third. Jackson Feltner then lined a double to center, scoring Ludwick and Drew Wilson.
Johnstown answered with two to tie it in the bottom of the frame. Anthony Viggiano led off with a walk, and Yenzi followed with a single to put runners at the corners.
Yenzi subsequently stole second, and an errant throw on the play scored Viggiano and moved Yenzi to third.
Capobianco’s sacrifice fly then brought home Yenzi to make it 2-2.
The Mill Rats turned a 4-6-3 double play to get out of trouble in the top of the third as the Paints failed to score with runners at the corners and one out, and Johnstown subsequently went ahead in the fifth.
Dylan Swarmer led off with a triple to the right field corner and came home on Mike Whiteherse’s infield single to put the Mill Rats up 3-2. One out later, Viggiano lined a double to left that scored Whiteherse. However, Chillicothe’s Tyler Sarkisian retired the next two Johnstown batters to keep the margin at two.
Chillicothe got one run back in the top of the sixth when Mitchell Vincent led off with a walk, stole second, advanced to third on Jimmy Allen’s single, and came home on a wild pitch to pull the Paints within 4-3.
The Mill Rats will begin a six-game, eight-day road trip on Tuesday and will return home on June 15 for a two-game set with Champion City.