BANGOR, Maine—Deandre Simpson hadn’t done much at the plate Sunday afternoon, but one swing produced redemption.
Simpson cranked a two-run double to left-center field to cap a three-run rally in the bottom of the seventh to give Lemon Grove, the U.S. West champions, a dramatic 4-3 win over U.S. Southeast representative Brevard County, FL, at Mansfield Stadium.
Cesar Preciado reached on an error to lead off the inning, and a wild pitch put him on second base.
After a flyout, Brad Moreno and Esteban Lieras stroked consecutive singles to make it 3-2.
Ray Peterson flew out to center for the second out, which set the stage for Simpson, who smacked a 1-2 offering from River Horning the opposite way to easily score Moreno and Lieras.
“He threw me two fastballs that I fouled off and he finally threw me a fastball down the middle,” said Simpson.
Simpson, who had been 0-for-3 prior to his heroic at-bat, knew his hit was a game-winner off the crack of the bat, pointing his finger in the air as he rounded first base.
“I expected a curveball and he threw me a fastball right down the middle,” he said.
Lemon Grove took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on Lieras’ infield single and a long double to left by Peterson, but they couldn’t do much with Florida’s pitchers after that.
“We just hung in there,” said Lemon Grove manager Andre Simpson. “Baseball has no clock. I keep explaining that to these guys and they know. We got ourselves in a perfect situation and took advantage of it.”
Lemon Grove would strand two runners in the second and another in the third while Brevard County forged ahead.
The Southeast champs struck for two runs in the top of the third. Cooper Christiano walked with two outs, went to second on a Matt Doran single, stole third and scored on a throwing error.
Carson Jackson gave Florida a 2-1 edge with a sharp base hit to left that scored Doran.
Florida threatened to widen its lead in the top of the sixth with runners on first and third and nobody out, but Nunez got out of it with a double play.
Nunez gave Lemon Grove six solid innings, throwing 65 pitches.
“Frankie Nunez really had a good game pitching for us today,” Andre Carter said. “It was great.”
The Southeast champs obtained some insurance in the top of the seventh on Doran’s run-scoring infield single up the middle, but Lemon Grove once again showed its fight in its three-run rally in the bottom half.
“We struggled a little early but we’re a team that never gives up as you can see with the outcome,” said Peterson.
Simpson earned the win in relief for Lemon Grove, pitching around a first-and-third jam in the top of the seventh.