Augusta, N.J. – The Skyhawks touched Tornadoes southpaw Zach Zuercher (4-2) for a pair of home runs in the seventh inning, but the late offensive outburst was too little, too late in a 7-4 loss on Tuesday night at CenturyLink Field at Skylands Park. Zuercher started for Worcester and out-dueled Sussex right-hander Tim Stringer (3-6) to tie the three-game series at one game apiece and push the visitors in front of the Skyhawks by one-half game for fourth place overall in the Can-Am League standings.
The home team threatened to take an early lead in the first inning when Joe Persichina followed Kraig Binick’s leadoff walk with a single, but Zuercher struck out the next three Skyhawks swinging to escape the jam.
The Tornadoes ended up striking first in the top of the fourth after loading the bases with a double, a hit batsman and a walk. Danny Santiestiban notched a sacrifice fly, Alex Trezza drove in two with a double and Billy Cather tallied an RBI single to cap a four-run frame for the visitors.
Kris Sanchez’s RBI double in the bottom half of the inning made it 4-1 after four, but the relentless Worcester offense tacked on a pair of runs in the fifth and one more in the sixth to gain a six-run advantage. The Tornadoes utilized sacrifice flies to right field in both innings to bring their total for the game to three.
Sussex fought back to within striking distance thanks to a pair of home runs in the bottom of the seventh. Kris Sanchez rocketed his second long fly of the series and his team-high 16th of the season to right-center field, and Nick Giarraputo lofted a two-run shot to left field three batters later to make it 7-4.
The Skyhawks would manage only one more hit over the final two and two-thirds innings, however, and Tornadoes right-hander Rick Asadoorian closed out a 1-2-3 ninth to rack up his seventh save of the season.
Rookie right-hander Charlie Gordon debuted for the Skyhawks and pitched two full innings, allowing one unearned run on three hits and one walk while striking out the side in the seventh. Right-hander Matt Salvato also added two scoreless innings in the combined relief effort.
The Skyhawks (8-21 second half, 33-42 overall) and Tornadoes (15-14, 34-42) conclude their three-game series on Wednesday night at 6:35 p.m. Sussex right-hander Trevor Marcotte (0-0, 3.38) makes his second start for the Skyhawks and opposes Worcester right-hander John Kelly (8-4, 3.68) in the series finale. Visit Hawk Watch at http://www.sussexskyhawks.wordpress.com for a live, play-by-play blog of all the action starting ten minutes prior to game time.
Wednesday night is Guinness World Record Night sponsored by Lakeland Bank as well as fireworks night at Skylands Park as the Skyhawks attempt to break the mark for most people tossing coins simultaneously in a giant post-game coin toss. Fans will also be able to enjoy special on-site vendors on Wednesday as part of Ladies Night and are encouraged to bring their unwanted gold to trade in for cash at the Party for Gold table. Tickets are still available by phone at 973-300-1000 ext. 21.