Chris Kersten hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 13th inning as Kinston beat Myrtle Beach 5-4 Saturday night at Historic Grainger Stadium. Kersten’s smash ended a career night for the K-Tribe first baseman, as he went 4-for-6 with two runs scored and two RBI.
Myrtle Beach started the scoring way back in the second inning off of Kinston starter T.J. House. Ronald Rivas made an error on a Dan Nelson grounder and then Jesus Sucre blasted a two-run homer to left field, his second dinger in as many nights. That gave the Pelicans a 2-0 lead for the third night in a row.
Kinston answered right back in the bottom of the inning off of Pelicans starter Arodys Vizcaino, making his Carolina League debut after being called up from Low A Rome. Tim Palincsar started the frame with a towering drive to right field that dropped on the warning track and went for a triple. After a Lucas Montero walk, Chris Kersten served an RBI single to center to score Palincsar. Richard Martinez laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners, and Rivas stroked a single to center to score Montero and tie the game at 2.
In the top of the third, the Pelicans used a bit of good fortune to take the lead back. Mycal Jones doubled to center field, alertly advancing to second when the K-Tribe failed to cover the base. Travis Jones then hit a pop up behind third base that appeared it would end the inning. However, third baseman Kyle Bellows misjudged the ball and had it land behind him in fair territory for a rare infield double. Mycal Jones scored to push the Pelicans ahead 3-2.
The K-Tribe rallied in the bottom of the fourth, starting with a leadoff double by Kersten. With two out, Jordan Henry hit a high fly ball to left but Calvin Culver's sliding attempt to catch the ball was ruled a trap, allowing Kersten to score the tying run. Karexon Sanchez then ripped a double off the wall in right field, plating Henry and giving the Indians a 4-3 lead.
More wackiness allowed the Pelicans to tie the game in the sixth. Travis Jones hit a high pop up to third base yet again, and in an eerily similar play to his pop up in the third, Bellows misjudged the ball and couldn't come up with it on a sliding attemp in short left field, giving Jones another pop up double. Dan Nelson smacked a single to center to bring Jones home and tie the game at 4.
Kinston’s starter House, gave up nine hits and four runs (two earned) in 6 1/3 innings of work. House struck out three and did not walk a batter. Vizcaino lasted just four innings for Myrtle Beach, giving up eight hits and four earned runs. He struck out three and walked one.
Both bullpens were brilliant, as Kinston’s Travis Turek and Matt Langwell combined for 6 2/3 innings of scoreless work. Langwell (4-2) picked up the win, giving up just three hits in three innings. The Pelicans pen matched Kinston’s, as Yeliar Castro and Angelo Paulino combined for seven innings of scoreless work. Luis Avilan would not be so lucky, as the Myrtle Beach reliever got himself into and then out of a bases loaded jam in the bottom of the 12th inning. Avilan (0-1) would give up the home run to Kersten, who led off the bottom of the 13th for Kinston.
The K-Tribe banged out 13 hits on the night. Kersten was a triple shy of the cycle, Henry went 3-for-4, Bellows and Palincsar each had two hits. Kinston is now 6-2 in extra inning games this season. The game was played in front of 3,456 fans, the third largest crowd of the season at Historic Grainger Stadium. The game was played in exactly four hours, the longest home game of the season in both time and innings. The K-Tribe will turn around and play the final game of the series at 2pm on Sunday afternoon at Historic Grainger Stadium. Marty Popham will take the hill for Kinston.