Bill on Baseball:Rosa’s walk-off homer caps Hoppers comeback

from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball at

Rosa’s walk-off homer caps Hoppers comeback

A raised fist wasn’t exactly the way Viosergy Rosa planned to celebrate a walk-off home run, but it still felt good.

Rosa belted a three-run shot over the right field fence in the bottom of the ninth inning, giving the Hoppers a 9-8 comeback win over Savannah Tuesday night.

“I had decided before I went to the plate that if I got a walk-off, I was going to stand at the plate and pimp it,” he said.

But the at-bat didn’t go exactly as he figured. There was a called strike that he thought was high and he said a few words to home plate umpire Ben Levin, who had tossed Savannah’s Phillip Evans in the top of the third inning.

“It was just my competitive nature coming out,” Rosa said. “There was no cursing.”

With the count 2-and-2, Rosa thought he would get a fastball from Sand Gnats closer Julian Hilario.

“I was going to try to line it over the shortstop’s head,” Rosa said. “But he threw a changeup and I did not know it was gone when I hit it. When I rounded first base I saw it clear the fence and my arm went up.”

The homer capped a night when the Hoppers, in essence, had to win the game three times. After taking a 3-0 lead they fell behind 5-3, rallied to go ahead 6-5, fell behind in the top of the ninth 8-6 and came back with three in the bottom.

“It was a real crazy game,” said manager Jorge Hernandez. “We battled back and we got some clutch two-out hits.”

Before Rosa’s homer, Yeison Hernandez and Anthony Gomez hit singles and Alfredo Lopez moved them up with a sacrifice bunt. Hernandez had two hits in his first game in the leadoff spot and Jorge Hernandez said he will keep him there.

Jesus Solarzano had a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth, Matt Juengel had two hits and two RBIs and Cody Keefer had a double, triple, home run and three RBIs.

“I’ve been looking for that from Keefer,” Hernandez said. “He did some extra hitting work today and it paid off. I’m really happy for him.”

Keefer worked with Marlins hitting coordinator Greg Norton, paying his first visit to NewBridge Bank Park.

“We just worked on my fundamentals and my routine,” said Keefer, who drilled a two-run homer in his first at-bat. “The homer came on a two-strike changeup. It felt good to finally get a home run in, what, the 13th game?”

Keefer’s triple came in the bottom of the 8th with two outs after Solorzano’s homer had tied the game 5-5. Juengel singled and moved to second on a passed ball and Keefer, with two strikes, lined one past second base. Savannah right fielder Gregory Pron made a dive for it but missed and Keefer wound up with a triple as Juengel scored to push the Hoppers ahead.

Closer Blake Logan, who entered the game with three saves, ran into trouble all kinds of trouble. A single, an error, a sacrifice fly and Kevin Plawecki’s two-run homer put the Sand Gnats up 8-6. But that just set the stage for the dramatic bottom of the inning and Logan wound up as the winning pitcher.

The teams play the rubber game of the three-game series Wednesday. The park will be filled with school kids and the game will start at 10:45 a.m.