The Syracuse Chiefs walked off for the fourth time this season, 5-4, against the Louisville Bats on Thursday night at NBT Bank Stadium. Alejandro De Aza smashed a three-run home run for his second walk-off hit of the year.
The Chiefs (37-66) trailed 4-2 in the bottom of the ninth, managing only five hits against the Bats. Jimmy Herget replaced Kevin Shackelford to attempt to close out the game. Syracuse got to work quickly as Neftali Soto smacked a double to right to lead off the inning. Brandon Snyder followed with a nine-pitch walk. After Spencer Kieboom struck out, De Aza walked up to the plate.
The 33-year-old had already ripped two hits in the game. But what followed was the best moment of his season. Herget had tossed three straight balls to commence the at-bat. De Aza then swung and fouled off a 3-0 pitch.
He stepped outside of the batter’s box, knocked his black bat against his shins, and took a deep breath. Herget dealt De Aza a fastball, and De Aza responded with a moon shot to deep right-center. It sailed over the fence to an exploding NBT Bank Stadium Crowd. De Aza thrusted his arms in the air as he rounded the bases and was drenched in blue Gatorade as he crossed the plate. The blast was his second walk-off of the year, his first on a homer.
Kieboom had kicked off the scoring off Amir Garrett for Syracuse with a bang in the bottom of the second. On a 1-1 count, Kieboom blasted a fastball over the right-field fence for his second homer of the year.
The Bats (42-62) didn’t wait long to even things up. Louisville launched a two-out rally off Jaron Long in the top of the third on a Jesse Winker single to center. Phillip Ervin followed with a walk. Sebastian Elizalde tied the game on a single to right, scoring Winker and making the game 1-1.
But the Chiefs struck right back in the bottom of the inning on another solo homer. Zach Collier smacked his first homer of the season on a boom to right.
Louisville took the lead thanks to a strong top of the sixth inning. Elizalde tied the game again, this time on a line-drive homer to right. Alex Blandino was then hit by a pitch two batters later. He took second on a groundout to first. Tyler Goeddel then picked up his first hit against the Chiefs on a double down the left-field line, plating Blandino.
In the top of the eighth, the Bats notched an additional run against Kevin Jepsen on another lead-off home run. It came from the bat of Brandon Dixon on a drive to left. It was his third homer of the series.
De Aza’s home run in the ninth gave Syracuse its second straight win over Louisville. The Chiefs return to action against the Gwinnett Braves Friday night at 7:05.