Flyboys walk-off to win 2021 Appy League Championship

Williams’ walk-off double lifts Greeneville past Pulaski, 9-8

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. – Chris Williams hit a walk-off, two-run double in the bottom of the ninth inning to lead Greeneville past Pulaski, 9-8, in the 2021 Appalachian League Championship Game on Monday night at Pioneer Park in Greeneville, Tenn. The Flyboys close out the 2021 season with a 34-16-1 record, while the River Turtles finish at 32-23.

After the River Turtles took the lead in the top of the ninth, Williams doubled to right field with a pair of runners on to secure the championship in the Appy League’s inaugural season as a collegiate summer league.

Pulaski got the offense started quickly against Appalachian League Pitcher of the Year Bryce Mayer when Ross Lovich hit the first pitch of the game into right field for a base hit. Two batters later, Cameron Leary cranked his ninth home run of the season to put Pulaski in front, 2-0. Mayer got into more trouble when Garrett Rice followed the homer with a double and Mark Trotta walked to continue the threat. But the right-hander prevented further damage, striking out the next two batters and stranding two runners on base.

Greeneville quickly answered in the bottom of the frame, rallying with two outs to score a run. Trevor Austin walked before Tayler Aguilar hit a single to left field, and an errant throw allowed Austin to score and trim the deficit in half.

After Mayer settled down in the top half of the second, Greeneville scored three more runs in the bottom of the inning to take the lead. Eddie Micheletti led off the inning with a triple and scored on an RBI-groundout by Daylen Reyes to tie the game before Jac Croom drove in two runs with a two-out single to put Greeneville in front, 4-2.

Pulaski got a run back in the top of the third when Rice reached on an error and later scored on Ryan Johnson’s two-run single, making it a 4-3 lead for Greeneville in the third.

Crayton Burnett replaced Pulaski starter Joan Jesus Gonzalez in the third inning and kept the Flyboys’ offense at bay in the middle innings. The right-hander retired 11 consecutive batters upon entering the game.

Pulaski re-took the lead in the top of the fifth, when Leary and Rice led off the inning with back-to-back singles to put runners on the corners before Trotta tied it with a sacrifice fly. Rice, who advanced to third on two wild pitches, scored on an RBI-groundout by Johnson to put Pulaski in front, 5-4, and knock Mayer out of the game.

Pulaski continued to hit in the top of the sixth. Irvin Escobar hit a leadoff single – his third such hit of the night – and advanced to second on Evan Minarovic’s single. Lovich followed that with a double off the wall in right field, plating Escobar and putting two runners in scoring position with no outs. But Cal Lambert escaped the jam, striking out two and inducing a pop-out to keep Greeneville within striking distance.

Burnett allowed his first baserunner with two outs in the sixth, walking Micheletti. Reyes followed with a double down the right field line to put two on with two out, and both runners scored on Jaylon Lee’s single to center field to tie the game at six.

The seventh inning featured more offense for both teams. After Zane Robbins retired the first two batters in the top of the seventh, John Bay hit a 3-0 pitch for his team-leading 10th home run of the year, putting Pulaski up by a run. Greeneville immediately answered, piecing together a rally and tying the game on an RBI-single by Williams to send the game to the eighth knotted at seven.

Both sides put runners on base in the eighth but were held scoreless. After a double sandwiched between two walks loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth for Pulaski, Lovich hit a sacrifice fly to center field to plate Johnson and score the go-ahead run.

But Greeneville wasn't finished as Jac Croom led off the bottom of the ninth with a four-pitch walk to put the tying run on first base against Pulaski’s Carter Lyles. After Lyles struck out Austin, Aguilar singled to put runners on the corners for Williams, whose double to right field plated the tying and winning runs to secure the championship for Greeneville. With the two-run double, Williams took the team lead for RBI in the final at-bat of the season.

The Flyboys got hits from seven of the nine batters in their lineup. Williams paced the offense, going 2-for-5 with three crucial RBI. Croom (2-for-4) and Lee (2-for-4) added two hits and a pair of RBI for Greeneville, who had 12 hits in the game.

Escobar (3-for-3) led Pulaski in hits, reaching base in all five of his plate appearances. Bay (2-for-5), Leary (2-for-4), Lovich (2-for-4) and Rice (2-for-5) all had multi-hit games, with Leary and Lovich also adding two RBI each. Mason Turner earned the win for Greeneville, pitching the ninth inning and escaping the bases-loaded, no-out jam with just one run allowed. Carter Lyles suffered the loss for Pulaski.