Schimpf’s walk-off homer lifts Chihuahuas over Zephyrs

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Angel Ulloa

Adrian Broaddus, Sports Editor

The old baseball saying goes, the last three outs are the hardest to get. The saying could not be more spot on in tonight’s matchup, as on five separate occasions the Chihuahuas had the chance to close out the game, but the New Orleans Zephyrs rallied back from eight runs in the ninth inning to tie the game for three more innings.

 

It was not until the bottom of the eleventh inning that Chihuahuas pinch hitter Ryan Schimpf drilled a walk-off two run homerun to win the game 10-8.

 

“What had been working against [Ryan] is he had been sick for the last two days in Las Vegas and was not able to play,” club manager Rod Barajas said. “He was just a last minute guy, but obviously my last minute guy stepped up big tonight. The power is there, the trust in him is there and he was able to deliver for us.”

 

In front of a sold out crowd, the game looked like it was about to be halted from the get-go as a heavy drizzle of rain poured over the stadium. In the matter of a half an inning, the sky cleared and the calm breeze made for a beautiful night at Southwest University Park.

 

In seven innings, starting pitcher Fabio Castillo pitched seven solid innings, not allowing a single run, only permitting four hits and recording five strikeouts.

 

“Castillo for his first Triple-A start was outstanding,” Barajas said. “Yardley just came off the plane at seven and came in and threw a great inning as well. There was a lot of positives.”

 

El Paso is notorious for going down early and making a comeback, but this game showcased a whole new contest that fans had not seen all season. After leading by eight runs through eight innings, the Zephyrs stunned the home team with an eight-run rally.
The Chihuahuas were seeking a shutout victory going into the ninth inning; however, the Zephyrs started a late rally in the top of the ninth, scoring eight runs. Chihuahuas Relief pitcher Aaron Northcraft could not record a single out, allowed three runs, four singles and two walks.

 

Reliever Keith Hessier replaced the well under par Northcraft and was put into a situation with bases loaded and no outs. He retired two quick outs before allowing two back-to-back 2-RBI singles. The Chihuahuas lead was cut 8-7 with two runners on base and the tying run on the plate and then Hessier blew the last tying run. The game was sent into extra innings after the Chihuahuas could not convert in the bottom of the ninth.

 

“When you’re going into the ninth inning with an eight run lead, more than often you’re going to win that ball game,” Barajas said. “We didn’t get the job done. This is Triple-A baseball; you should be able to get the job done. Tonight we did not do that.”

 

It was the diamond in the rough, Schimpf who saved the game for the Chihuahuas in walk-off fashion.

 

“I haven’t had an at-bat in a couple of days, so I’m just trying to get a good pitch to hit and get the barrel and hit it hard,” Schimpf said. “I got a good pitch with the jet stream here at the park and I knocked one out of here.”

 

The Chihuahuas put numbers on the board during the bottom of the fourth inning. First basemen James Loney hit the first RBI single of the game, which sparked three runs to follow. They were up 4-0.

 

In the eighth inning, the Chihuahuas repeated their success they had in the fourth inning by tallying four runs again.

 

They barely outhit the Zephyrs 15-14 in the nail-biter. With the win, the Chihuahuas were able to break .500 on the season and hold a 18-17 record. They will continue their four-game series against the Zephyrs on Sunday at 1:15 in Southwest University Park.

 

Adrian Broaddus may be reached at [email protected]