Tim Tebow hits an RBI single for the Binghamton Rumble Ponies in the fourth inning of Tuesday's game against the Erie SeaWolves at NYSEG Stadium. Binghamton won, 6-5. Rob Centorani, firstname.lastname@example.org | @PSBRob
Apr 8, 2018; Binghamton, NY, USA; Binghamton Rumble Ponies first baseman Peter Alonso (16) reacts after hitting a home run during the seventh inning of the game against the Portland Sea Dogs at NYSEG Stadium.(Photo: Gregory Fisher, Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports)
Regular readers of pressconnects.com/the Press & Sun-Bulletin have likely noticed the Binghamton Rumble Ponies’ coverage thus far has centered on one player.
Heisman winner Tim Tebow is perhaps the most recognizable sports figure to spend an extended amount of time in these parts since Tebow’s former boss – Denver Broncos GM John Elway – hit .318 for the Oneonta Yankees in 1982.
But for one day, Tebow followers will be disappointed.
And that’s because yours truly witnessed something Tuesday night he’s never seen while covering baseball – back-to-back two-out homers in the ninth inning to decide a game.
Jeff McNeil tied the score on a shot to right before Peter Alonso lined one over the left-center field fence, and the Rumble Ponies walked off with a 6-5 victory over the Erie SeaWolves before an announced attendance of 1,788 at NYSEG Stadium.
I’ve been doing this for about 30 years, so when something happens I’ve never witnessed, that’s saying something.
Turns out, I’m not the only one.
“I’ve never seen it live,” Rumble Ponies manager Luis Rojas said. “It’s the first time I’ve ever been a part of that, but it’s a pretty special moment.”
McNeil added: “First time I’ve ever been a part of it. That is pretty cool and probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever done on a baseball field.”
And from Alonso: “No (I’ve never seen that). That was cool. I don’t know why we don’t do that every game. That’s exciting.”
And Alonso’s walk-off shot – Binghamton’s second such victory of 2018 – continued a start to his third professional season that’s bordering on absurd. A second-round draft pick of the New York Mets in 2016, Alonso hit two homers Tuesday, finished 3-for-5 with three RBI, and a night earlier, he scored the winning run in Binghamton’s come-from-behind, 6-5 win over the SeaWolves.
He leads the Eastern League in homers (11), on-base percentage (.478) and OPS (1.173), he’s tied for the league lead in walks (23), second in RBI (33), slugging percentage (.695) and hits (47), and third in batting average (.367).
It’s safe to say no hitter in Binghamton Mets/Rumble Ponies history has had a better start.
“I just want to stay super consistent so people will say, ‘OK, Pete’s legit,’” Alonso said. “I want to be known as a really good player.”
Hate reading that if so-and-so keeps this pace, he’ll end up with such-and-such numbers. But if Alonso keeps this pace, he’ll end up with 40-plus homers.
Rumble Ponies left fielder hits a three-run homer off Erie's Jeff Thompson in the sixth inning to help Binghamton to a 6-5 victory Monday at NYSEG Stadium. pressconnects.com
Wonder if Maine-Endwell varsity baseball coach Matt Raleigh is hearing footsteps. Raleigh clubbed a franchise-record 37 home runs in 1997, the most memorable a towering shot off to left Hideki Irabu before a sellout crowd at then-named Binghamton Municipal Stadium.
What Raleigh has in his favor is that if Alonso continues his torrid hitting, the Mets would be crazy to keep him in Binghamton.
Protecting a one-run lead in the ninth, Erie right-hander Mark Ecker struck out Champ Stuart and got Levi Michael to ground out to short.
Up stepped McNeil, a player who’d never hit more than four homers in his first five pro seasons. He took two change-ups for balls before Eckert threw him a fastball and McNeil hit a bullet that sailed about 10 feet foul, right of the 330 sign.
He’s probably not going to get another fastball, right?
Ecker threw the next one in the middle half, and McNeil hit a rainbow shot to right, one that bounced off a sign behind the fence and back into play for his eighth homer of the season.
“I was actually looking for a fastball right down the middle, and I got it and fouled it off,” said McNeil, who leads the EL in runs (31), is third in slugging percentage (.682), fifth in OPS (1.083) and has seen 22 of his 34 hits go for extra bases. “Then I got pretty much the same pitch and put a good swing on it.”
McNeil’s 2-for-5 performance extended his hitting streak to 14 games.
Alonso, who’d already hit a high blast to left that pulled Binghamton to 3-2 in the third inning, said he took his cue from McNeil in the ninth.
“I was super jacked up when he hit that,” he said. “He hit a game-tying home run in the bottom of the ninth. That’s super-clutch hitting. Hitting is contagious, and I was just like, alright, if he’s going to run one out of the ballpark, why not do the same? I put a good swing on the ball, stuck with my approach, got the pitch I wanted.”FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedInGallery: Rumble Ponies opening weekend Fullscreen
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That pitch was a 1-1 slider, and it got out in a hurry.
Now the Rumble Ponies (19-17) have a season-high five-game winning streak going into Wednesday, when they conclude a three-game series with the SeaWolves at 6:35 p.m. Right-hander Andrew Church will pitch for Binghamton against Beau Burrows.
Promised myself I wouldn’t do this, but Tebow went 1-for-4. His RBI single to left in the fourth inning tied the score at 3.
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