On paper, Sunday’s finale had all the makings of a Fisher Cats series victory in the third and deciding game at FirstEnergy Stadium. They outhit the R-Phils 9-3, got eight dominant innings from starter Patrick Murphy , and had the first crack at scoring in extra innings. But the Fightin Phils prevailed and hung around, getting a sacrifice fly from Austin Bossart in the eighth inning to tie it up before Luke Williams won it with a double in the 11th.
Murphy faced the Fightins for the second time this season, going up against Ramon Rosso , who spent the weekend with the lowest ERA in the Eastern League at 0.59. In the first, the Fisher Cats strung together back-to-back base hits to open the ballgame from Forrest Wall and Santiago Espinal , but Rosso got through the inning unscathed on just 11 pitches.
Alberto Mineo later led off the fourth with a single back up the middle, and Chad Spanberger made it second and third with a one-out double. Kevin Smith’s single into right broke the scoreless tie, but again, Rosso evaded further trouble with strikeouts of Brock Lundquist and Nash Knight to get out of the jam.
For the second straight outing against Reading, Murphy was perfect the first time though the lineup, adding four strikeouts along the way. In the home fourth, Mickey Moniak made some noise with his first triple into the right field corner, putting the tying run at third base with just one out. Like Rosso, Murphy escaped, striking out Adam Haseley before Darick Hall ended the inning with a groundout to short.
With Rosso out after five innings, manager Shawn Williams’ bullpen delivered yet another dominant performance. As the backbone of the team over the first month, Aaron Brown worked the sixth and JD Hammer struck out three over two scoreless innings.
After seven scoreless innings, Murphy cracked just a bit in the bottom of the eighth with the 1-0 lead still intact. Left fielder Raul Rivas drew a crucial walk to lead things off, just the second base on balls issued by the Fisher Cats righthander. Rivas’ first stolen base and a wild pitch gave Reading some breathing room to tie the score, and Bossart came through with his sixth run batted in on a sacrifice fly to center to tie the score at one.
After Luke Leftwich extended his scoreless innings streak to 12-and-two-thirds by throwing the ninth, the Fightins had a chance to win it. Austin Listi’s second walk of the afternoon led things off, and Williams came in to pinch run. He stole second base and a Haseley groundout pushed him over to third base, but Jackson McClelland sent it to extras with a strikeout of Hall.
Jeff Singer came out of the R-Phils bullpen for the 10th inning, getting a double play right away when Espinal flied out to center and Moniak made a perfect throw to nab Wall at third base. The defense helped out Singer (1-0) again in the 11th when Bossart picked up a dirt ball and gunned down Mineo trying to advance to third base for the first out of the inning. Williams got his only at-bat in the 11th, doubling home Bossart with a line shot down the left field line for the Fightins first win in their final at bat this season.