As the team's magic number continues to shrink, the York Revolution players know that clinching the first-half Freedom Division title and an Atlantic League playoff berth are becoming closer to reality.
They also know each game will now become more pressure packed.
Adding to the intensity is the fact that York is facing a Long Island Ducks side that is battling for its own first-half title in the Liberty Division. So, when York blew a 4-1 lead on the road to Long Island on Monday night and entered the final inning tied at 4-4, the stress was at a high level.
Fortunately, for the Revs, they responded in a big way, striking for four runs in the top of the ninth inning to claim a critical 8-4 win over the Ducks and maintain their three-game lead atop the Freedom Division standings over the Sugar Land Skeeters.
Joel Guzman drove in what turned out to be the game-winning run, singling home Travis Witherspoon to put York (37-27) up 5-4 in the game. The Revs then added two more runs on an error before Brandon Chaves put the finishing touches on one of the biggest innings of the season for York with an RBI single. All that was left was for Mike DeMark to close out the game in the bottom half of the frame, which he did, despite it not being a save situation.
Guzman also got the game's scoring started in the top of the first when he drove in Michael Rockett to give the Revs an early 1-0 lead. However, that lead wouldn't last. Long Island (35-29) answered right back off of York starter Frank Gailey to tie the game at 1-1 after one.
The Revs tacked on two more runs in the top of the fourth on RBI singles by Alfredo Marte and Salvador Paniagua to take a 3-1 lead. York added one more in the top of the fifth thanks to an unearned run to make it 4-1. But, Gailey ran into trouble in the bottom half of the sixth and ultimately served up a game-tying three-run homer to Cody Puckett. Gailey was then ejected from the contest for arguing balls and strikes as Puckett rounded the bases.
A combination of Manny Corpas, Luis Perdomo and DeMark pitched 3 2/3 innings of shutout ball to keep the Revs in the game until the bats came alive in the ninth.
Gailey ended up going 5 1/3 innings, allowing four earned runs on six hits, with two walks and four strikeouts. Perdomo earned the win by pitching a clean bottom of the eighth.
With Sugar Land also winning on Monday, York's magic number to clinch the first-half division title dropped to four. The Revs lead the Skeeters by three games with six to play. With two more York wins and two Sugar Land losses, the Revs could potentially sew up a playoff berth as early as Wednesday night.
York and the Ducks will continue their four-game series on Tuesday, with first pitch scheduled for 6:35 p.m. at Bethpage Ballpark.