Brewers hold off Expos 7-6; move into first place tie in Twi

Jul 11, 2019 by

Published in the July 11, 2019 edition.

By DAN BYRNE

WAKEFIELD — The Twi League schedule is still in its infancy, but Tuesday night’s matchup between the Expos and the Brewers proved that even early season games are important.

The Expos came in tied for a share of first place in the standings with five points, having played to a 7-7 tie the previous night against The Unknowns, who also stand on five points along with the Loafers. The Brewers came in one point behind with a record of 2-2.

After the game, the standings would look a bit different, as the Brewers came from behind and held off a late push by the Expos to claim the 7-6 victory.

Joey Greer got the ball to start on the mound for the Brewers, and did well enough to keep his team in the game through five innings. He struggled in the 1st inning, giving up two runs on four walks, but the Expos didn’t get the big hit they needed and Greer got the final batter to strike out without taking the bat off his shoulder. After a shaky first inning, Greer settled down and allowed just two runs over the next four innings.

On the other side, Matt Reilly got the ball for the Expos and he looked sharp right out of the gate, allowing a hit and a walk, but no runs in the first, and in the second he limited the damage of a one out walk by getting a strikeout and a groundout to end the inning.

Greer’s command betrayed him once again in the top of the 3rd as he started the inning with a walk to Steve Fiore and then drilled Nick Roberto with the first pitch of the next at bat. After getting Dave MacDonald to pop out, Greer gave up a single to Mark Andrick to make it 3-0 Expos. Greer recovered striking out Zach Kane looking for the second time in as many at bats.

The Brewers got on the board in their half of the 3rd inning with a two-out rally after Reilly got the first two batters to swing early in the count and pop out.

With two down, Matt Fiore laced an 0-2 pitch into left field for a single, followed by a single for John Halsey and an RBI base hit for Anthony Carbone. Reilly got Mike Fiore to ground to shortstop to end the threat and limit the damage to only one run.

In the 4th, Greer got the Expos to go down in order, recording a strikeout along the way. The quick inning in the top half, set up the Brewers’ bats to come alive in the bottom of the 4th.

Tom Leahy started things off lifting a ball to left that Seth Johnston played into a double. Next up, Tim Hurley sliced one to left that ate Johnston up and got Leahy to 3rd. Next up, Zach Thomas was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Brian DiRuzza. The designated hitter slapped one to left, getting the better of Johnston again, as two runs came in to score.

Reilly got his counterpart Greer to go down on strikes looking, but a wild pitch would bring Thomas in to score from third. With the bases now empty, Drew Betts lifted a ball into centerfield, but it was dropped out there, allowing Betts to reach. Reilly got out of the inning without any further damage coming home, as Fiore and Halsey hit into back-to-back fielder’s choices to end the inning.

The Expos now trailed 4-3, but they’d tie the game in their half of the 5th. Greer retired the first batter of the inning, before hitting Steve Fiore with a pitch. Fiore would move up into scoring position after a wild pitch and Greer got Roberto to fly out to centerfield. A two-out RBI single for Dave MacDonald scored Fiore tying the game at four runs apiece. Greer retired the side when the next hitter Andrick flew out to centerfield.

Anthony Carbone led off with a walk for the Brewers in the bottom of the 5th and he came around to score as Reilly had some trouble finding the plate. Mike Fiore followed Carbone’s walk with a base to put two men on with nobody out. A pair of groundouts moved the runners into scoring position and Carbone would come in on a wild pitch before Reilly got DiRuzza to ground out to third ending the inning.

That would close the book on Greer as the Brewers turned to the bullpen and Brian Millea for the 6th and 7th innings. Millea was sharp as a tack in his first inning, facing just 3 hitters, striking out 2.

With the score 5-4 heading into the bottom of the 6th, Expos pitcher Matt Reilly had gone through the order several times and his pitch count was on the rise. He ran into trouble to start the 6th as he hit Millea with a pitch. After Betts flew out to right, Matt Fiore knocked his second single of the game, moving Millea into scoring position.

A walk to Halsey loaded the bases for Anthony Carbone. The Brewers slugger crushed a ball to deep centerfield, which looked like it had a chance of either sailing into the soccer net or glancing a branch of one of the trees out there, but somehow Steve Fiore found some space in between the obstacles and snared the ball for the out. It was plenty deep to score Millea, but nonetheless it was a big play in the inning. With runners at first and second, Mike Fiore singled home his brother Matt from second base for the inning’s second run to make the score 7-4 Brewers. Reilly retired the side after hitting Leahy with a pitch and getting Hurley to ground out to second for the final out.

The stakes were set for Millea to close things out in the 7th with a three-run lead, but the Expos wouldn’t let him off easily. Greg Jain led off the inning with a pinch hit double to left centerfield, followed by a single from Dave Melanson to make it first and third with no outs. Millea recovered, striking out leadoff hitter John Grossi and getting the subsequent batter Steve Fiore to ground weakly to second base, allowing Melanson to move into scoring position.

Nick Roberto singled to drive home the two runners and cut the lead to 7-6 with two down. Millea, the crafty Twi League veteran had some tricks up his sleeve with the tying run on first base. He may have never intended to throw another pitch, as he attempted one pickoff throw to first unsuccessfully, but went right back to the well, quickly tossing the ball over and catching Roberto leaning off the base. An accurate throw down to 2nd and a tag of Roberto ended the game 7-6 in favor of the Brewers.

The win vaulted the Brewers ahead of the Expos and into a tie with the Slappers for first place with six points. The Brewers were right back at it as they faced off with their rival and 2018 Champion the Highlife in a finals rematch last night at Moulton. In another epic game, the Highlife won 9-8 for their first win of the season.

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