It took five hours, 26 minutes, 18 innings and an infielder pitching for the New Orleans Zephyrs to finally edge the Nashville Sounds on Saturday night at First Tennessee Park.
The night marked the longest game Nashville has been a part of since losing a 24-inning affair, 5-4 with the Zephyrs at Greer Stadium on May 5th, 2006.
The Sounds fell behind early when former Sound Vinny Rottino took Sounds starter Barry Zito deep to give the Zephyrs a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning.
Andre Rienzo was dealing for the Zephyrs, pitching five no-hit innings to start the game. Andy Parrino broke that up in a hurry, crushing a triple into the right-center gap to lead off the sixth. He would score on an RBI groundout by the next batter, Anthony Aliotti and the Sounds would trail by just one.
The Zephyrs came right back, using their power to once again reassert their control on the game. Derek Dietrich drew a leadoff walk and Brady Shoemaker made Zito pay, taking him deep to right. Zito’s day would be done after 6.1 innings. He yielded just five hits.
The Sounds tied the game up in the seventh with a three-run outburst. The home team recorded just one hit in the inning – a Bryan Anderson RBI Double – but drew three walks and took advantage of a throwing error by Dietrich.
Pat Venditte was perfect against the eight batters he faced on the evening. The switch-pitcher struck out two and has his ERA down to 1.09.
Ryan Cook performed a remarkable job getting out of a jam in the tenth inning. After surrendering a leadoff ground-rule double to Brandon Bantz, pinch runner Issac Galloway was sacrifice bunted to third. Cook induced a grounder back at third baseman Ryan Roberts who threw home to Anderson who tagged Galloway out at home. Cook then picked Austin Wates off first base to end the frame.
The teams continued trading zeros till the 16th when Steve Scarsone made the move to save his bullpen for tomorrow’s matinee. Infielder Niuman Romero came out of the pen with men on first and second with two outs. The veteran got Wates to ground into a force at third. Romero became the first Sounds infielder to pitch in a game since Erick Almonte on April 21, 2012 at Omaha.
Romero loaded the bases with one out in the 17th, then somehow struck out the next two batters he faced, much to the applause of the First Tennessee Park faithful. The Zephyrs finally got to him in the 18th. Miguel Rojas tripled to score two runs and then scored on a sacrifice fly. The Sounds would add one more in the bottom half of the 18th inning.
The two teams will not have much time off as game two is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. tomorrow. Kendall Graveman will be on the bump for the home team. He will be opposed by top Marlins prospect Justin Nicolino.