SYRACUSE, N.Y. (SYRACUSE METS) –
Francisco Álvarez, the top prospect in minor league baseball, had a magic moment at NBT Bank Stadium on Thursday night. The 20-year-old catcher launched a two-run home run deep into the summer night in the bottom of the ninth inning, propelling the Mets to a 5-3 win over the Omaha Storm Chasers.
Syracuse (43-53) entered the bottom of the ninth inning with the game tied, 3-3, setting the stage for the signature moment of the 2022 season for the Mets. After a Tzu-Wei Lin lineout to start the frame, Robertson nearly end the game on his own, tripling off the top of the centerfield wall to put the winning run 90 feet away with one out in the ninth. Álvarez would do better than just ending the game, taking a hanging breaking ball and pounding it off the light tower beyond the left-field wall for a walk-off, two-run home run that gave the Mets a 5-3 victory. The 20-year-old catcher from Venezuela has two home runs in his Triple-A career, the other a grand slam at Worcester on Saturday afternoon.
The game started quickly with both teams scoring in the first inning. In the top of the first, Omaha (48-47) manufactured a tally when Drew Waters walked to start the game, stole his way to second, then to third, and scored on a groundball out by Michael Massey as the Storm Chasers took a 1-0 lead.
In the bottom of the first, Syracuse scored twice to take its first lead of the night. Kramer Robertson began the inning with a single, followed by an Álvarez walk that put runners on first and second with nobody out. Daniel Palka struck out, but a Mark Vientos walk loaded up the bases with one out. Travis Blankenhorn followed with an RBI groundout that plated Robertson to tie the game up, 1-1. Then, with Álvarez at third base and Vientos at second, a pitch crossed up Omaha catcher Freddy Fermin, skittering to the backstop for a passed ball that scored Álvarez and made it 2-1 in favor of the home team.
It remained 2-1 until the fourth, when each team scored one more time. In the top of the fourth, Nate Eaton singled with one out and swiped his way up to second. The Storm Chasers ended up stealing eight bases overall in the game. After a Brewer Hicklen walk and a Clay Dungan lineout, Fermin looped a soft single into center field to score Eaton and make it a tie game, 2-2
In the bottom of the fourth, the Mets regained the lead. After a Blankenhorn single, a walk by Khalil Lee, and a Deven Marrero fielder’s choice groundout put runners on first and second with one out, a throwing error by the pitcher Austin Cox on a pickoff attempt advanced Lee to third and Marrero to second base. Michael Perez then lofted a fly ball to the left-field wall just shy of a home run, but it certainly was deep enough for a sacrifice fly to score Lee and give Syracuse a lead again, 3-2.
Omaha came back once more, this time in the eighth. With nobody on base and two outs, Michael doubled down the right-field line to extend the inning. Nate Eaton promptly brought him home, slicing a single into centerfield to plate Massey and make it a 3-3 game late in the contest. Eaton finished the game 2-for-4 with a run scored, a stolen base, and a run driven in.
Even with the run allowed in the eighth inning, the Mets bullpen was rock solid on Thursday night. Adonis Medina, Rob Zastryzny, and Bryce Montes de Oca allowed just two earned runs in six innings with nine strikeouts. Montes de Oca had six strikeouts on his own, working the eighth and nine innings for the Mets on Thursday night to put Syracuse in its position to win the game in the bottom of the ninth.
Syracuse continues its six-game series against the Omaha Storm Chasers on Friday evening. Left-hander Nate Fisher is scheduled to start for the Mets opposed by right-hander Jonathan Heasley for the Storm Chasers. First pitch on Friday is slated for 6:35 p.m.