Stunning slam sends Skeeters to championship series

September 24, 2018

The Sugar Land Skeeters trailed twice in the series and in the ninth and 10th innings of the decisive game against Lancaster.

They are still playing.

Tony Thomas hit a one-out grand slam in the bottom of the 10th to close a 10-6 victory in the fifth final game of the Freedom Division Championship Series, Sept. 23 at Constellation Field. The Skeeters scored three runs in the ninth to tie the game and five in the 10th to win it.

Sugar Land will play Long Island in the Atlantic League Championship Series. The Ducks defeated Somerset 3-2 to win the Liberty Division series in five games.

The Skeeters host Game 1 on Sept. 25 and Game 2 on Sept. 26 at Constellation Field. Scheduled start times for both are 7:05 p.m. Sugar Land won its first and only Atlantic League championship in 2016.

Sugar Land trailed most of the game, facing a 5-2 deficit in the ninth before Anthony Giansanti and Matt Chavez homered. Derek Norris singled home pinch-runner Barrett Barnes with one out for the tying run. The Skeeters later had the winning run thrown out at the plate.

Winning pitcher Jean Machi allowed a run in the 10th but averted further damage, stranding runners at second and third. Giansanti singled with one out to start the decisive rally, scoring the tying run on a wild pitch.

Juan Silverio singled, Matt Chavez was intentionally walked and Javier Betancourt was hit by a pitch to set the stage for Thomas, who sent the Skeeters to the third championship series in franchise history.

Lancaster won the series opener 5-3 at home before seven outstanding innings by James Russell evened the series. Russell allowed five hits and struck out six without a walk as the Skeeters won 3-0.

The Barnstormers took the first game in Sugar Land 8-2 to push the Skeeters toward elimination. They answered with a 7-2 win the following night as Lucas Irvine worked 5 1/3 effective innings and Norris and Alvaro Rondon both drove in three runs.

Gainsanti led the Skeeters offensively in the series, batting .476 with five runs, three RBI and a stolen base. Norris hit .444 with four RBIs and three walks. Silverio hit .348 with four runs, three RBIs and two steals.

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