May 17, 2012
CL Game 41

Rays (FiscalWise)   13

Diamondbacks (Cocco's Pizza)   10



In a battle of up-and-coming squads, the short-handed Rays invoked the five-run rule in back-to-back innings and out-clubbed the Diamondbacks, 13-10.

For the victors, who had only nine players available: Zach Schuller went 4 for 4 with a three-run homer, four RBI and two runs scored, and Ben Werner went 4 for 4 with two RBI and a run scored to lead a Rays offense that pounded out 24 hits and put the ball in play 27 times. On a night when every Ray who batted got at least one hit, Kenny Adenusi (three runs scored, RBI), Jared Venit (two RBI, run scored), Taiwo Adenusi (two runs scored, RBI) and Ben Kinsley (two runs scored) each went 3 for 4; Jimmy Cawley went 2 for 4 with two runs scored and two RBI; Tucker Kinne smoked a double and added an RBI fielder's choice; and Peter Valtos notched a single.

Defensively, Kinne and Adenusi had outstanding games for the Rays.

For the D'backs: Luke Mersch went 3 for 3 with a run scored and an RBI, and played exceptionally well in the field to earn a game ball. In addition to Mersch, four other Diamondbacks went 3 for 3, including Nick Corritore (two-run double, three RBI, two runs scored), Blayke Reid (two-run double, two runs scored), Joey Cornacchia (double, three runs scored) and Jake McDowell (two runs scored, RBI). Meanwhile, Lizzy Gibian went 2 for 3 with an RBI, and Dylan LeBuhn (RBI), Josh Rodgers (RBI) and Nico Villalobos added a single apiece for the D'Backs, who piled up 20 hits and put the ball in play 24 times.

Along with Mersch, LeBuhn, Brunner, Corritore, Cornacchia, Reid, McDowell and Davenport also stood out on defense for the Diamondbacks.

Fresh off their exhilarating, 12-11, comeback win over the Dodgers three nights earlier, the D'backs came out hitting in the top of the first. After Cornacchia crushed a one-out double to center, McDowell sent him home with a hard-hit single back through the box. Then, Corritore singled to put runners on first and second with one out. Although the next batter was retired, the lethal, left-handed-hitting duo of Reid and Mersch was coming up.

Reid, a Ray-killer who went 3 for 3 with two RBI the first time these teams met on April 20, delivered the first big blow of the game when he slammed an opposite-field double to left center to plate both McDowell and Corritore and stretch the visitors' early lead to 3-0. With Reid having warmed up his "Green Monster" bat for him, Mersch pulled a single down the first-base line to put runners on the corners with two outs, but the Rays got out of the inning without allowing any more runs.

In the bottom of the first, after Kenny Adenusi, Werner and Schuller each singled to load the bases with one out, Venit sent a hard-hit ball to the right side to plate Adenusi. On the play, Mersch made a terrific stop near second and alertly tagged the bag to prevent more damage. After the next batter was retired, the D'backs took a 3-1 lead into the second.

In the top of the second, the Diamondbacks threatened again as LeBuhn and Villalobos got back-to-back singles, with the latter being a line shot to the left side, to start the frame. But, then, the Rays' defense stepped up to stem the tide. First, Kinne robbed Rodgers of a hit when he smoothly fielded the ball by the mound and fired it to Kenny Adenusi at third to force out LeBuhn. Then, Adenusi took a single away from Davenport when he cleanly fielded a well-hit ball by the hot corner and beat Villalobos to the bag for the second out. The Rays went on to escape the inning unscathed.

Riding the momentum gained from their strong defensive half-inning, the Rays unleashed their bats in the bottom of the second. After Taiwo Adenusi, Kinsley and Kenny Adenusi all singled to load the bases with one out, Cawley hit the ball to the right side to score Taiwo Adenusi. After Corritore fielded Cawley's grounder and got an unassisted putout at first, it looked like the D'backs might get out of the inning having given up just one run. But the Rays had other ideas.

First, Werner plated Kinsley with a hit to the left side to tie the game at 3-3. Then, with runners at first and third and two outs, Schuller absolutely demolished the ball, sending it deep to left for a three-run blast that gave the home team a lead it would never relinquish. With the five-run rule in effect, the Rays led, 6-3, after two innings.

After the first two batters went down in the top of the third, Cornacchia, McDowell and Corritore strung together three consecutive hits to cut the Diamondbacks' deficit to 6-4. With runners on first and second and two outs, Corritore lifted a long single into left to plate the always-hustling Cornacchia from second. Then, yet again, the Rays' defense came up with a big play as Kinne made an unassisted putout at first to take a hit away from Milan Hortua and keep the D'backs from loading the bases for Reid.

In the home half of the third, the Rays continued their offensive onslaught as they batted around en route to scoring five runs, all with two outs. With Venit and Taiwo Adenusi, each of whom had singled, standing on second and first, respectively, it was up to Kinsley to the keep the inning alive. Not only did Kinsley single to load the bases with two outs, but the five batters - Kenny Adenusi, Cawley, Werner, Schuller and Venit (yes, again) - who followed him also got base hits to inflate the Rays' cushion to 11-4. When all was said and done, in that half-inning alone, Venit had totaled a pair of singles, an RBI and a run scored to spearhead an offense that tallied eight hits and brought the five-run rule into play for the second inning in a row.

Refusing to yield, the Diamondbacks bounced right back with two runs of their own in the top of the fourth. After Reid singled to lead off the inning, Mersch drilled a shot to left center and Gibian stroked a hit of her own to load the bases with nobody out. Then, LeBuhn scored Reid and advanced Mersch and Gibian with a groundout to first. After the next batter was retired, Rodgers plated Mersch with a two-out single to trim the Rays' advantage to 11-6.

In the bottom of the fourth, Kinne smashed a leadoff double, but the D'backs got out of the inning without giving up a run.

After the D'backs went in order in the top of the fifth, the Rays padded their lead with two runs in the home half of the inning. Cawley started things off by legging out a single. On the play, Brunner made a strong stop by first base and dove to the bag, but Cawley beat him there by a split-second. Werner and Schuller followed with singles to load the bases with nobody out. Then, Venit sent a hard-hit ball to the left side that looked like trouble. Unfortunately for the Rays, the ball hit Werner, who was heading for third. By rule, Venit was awarded a single and Schuller advanced to second, but Werner was out and Cawley had to return to third.

With the bases loaded and one out, Kinne appeared to have a single when he hit the ball hard into the outfield, but Mersch came up with the defensive play of the game when he scooped up the ball in left center and swiftly delivered a strike to Cornacchia to force out Venit at second. On the play, Cawley scored and Schuller moved over to third. Then, Taiwo Adenusi knocked in Schuller with a single to widen the Rays' advantage to 13-6. Although Valtos singled to load the bases with two outs, the Diamondbacks got out of the inning without giving up any more runs.

The D'backs finished with a furious flurry, scoring four runs on six hits in the top of the sixth. After Cornacchia and McDowell started the inning with consecutive singles, Corritore launched a double into left to score both of them. Although the next batter was retired, Reid singled to put runners on the corners with one out. Then, Mersch capped off his stellar evening by hitting a scorcher to center to plate Corritore and move Reid to third. Gibian followed with a base hit to score Reid and advance Mersch to the hot corner. Because the next two batters were retired, the Rays avoided the five-run rule, but the Diamondbacks came off the field knowing they had finished strong for the third game in a row.