By Pat Turner
The Missions celebrated a walk-off victory in extra innings for the second straight night.
This time the honor belonged to Rocky Gale, who lined a two-out single to right field in the 11th inning for a 3-2 victory over Midland Saturday night at Wolff Stadium.
The Missions, who won a 3-2 decision in 10 innings Friday with Gabriel Quintana’s solo home run, missed opportunities in the ninth and 10th, but thanks to sound pitching from Jason Jester (1-1) in the two extras, another chance came their way.
“This was exciting, especially since it was extras,” Gale said. “This is big. We needed those wins. When we play Midland here at home runs are hard to come by.”
For Gale, it was the perfect way to finish. After all, the Missions catcher had gone through a rough night. He failed to produce with a runner in scoring position in the fourth and his passed ball in the fifth allowed the tying run to score.
When a chance at redemption came his way in the 11th, Gale was ready to go.
“It wasn’t a very good game for me,” Gale said. “I let a ball get to the backstop and that tied it up. I had some chances earlier with runs in scoring position so it was nice to get another opportunity.”
Quintana set the table for Gale’s big finish by beginning the inning with a single off Trey Cochran-Gill (4-4).
When it appeared the threat might be fizzling after the RockHounds’ reliever retired the next two batters, Quintana stole second, putting Gale in an ideal position.
“When (Quintana) stole second I was very happy,” Gale said. “When that happens you feel like you’re in the driver’s seat. We had a base open and I was looking for a pitch I could hit.”
Gale got the perfect pitch and laced a single into right. As Quintana crossed the plate, Gale’s teammates greeted him between second and third.
Saturday’s game had plenty of promise for the Missions in the early portion.
Missions starter Dinelson Lamet struck out the side in the first and Nelson Ward helped provide a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the inning when he singled, raced to third on a botched pickoff attempt and scored on a groundout.
After giving up a lead single to Tyler Marincov in the second, Lamet followed with two strikeouts, only to be tagged for the game-tying run on two singles and a walk. Midland came close to taking the lead on Danny Oh’s single, but left fielder Nick Torres to catcher Rocky Gale erased the runner.
The Missions regained the lead in the second when Quintana doubled and scored on River Stevens’ single up the middle.
Lamet retired the RockHounds in order in the third and fourth, but Midland came up with another tying run in the fifth when Josh Rodriguez smacked a double off the left field wall, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on the passed ball.
Despite letting the lead slip away for a second time, the Missions enjoyed another happy ending, moving five games behind the Texas League South Division second half leading RockHounds.
“It’s always exciting but I would just assume not have to do it that way,” Missions manager Phillip Wellman said. “I love to win that’s for sure. But extra innings and doing it in walk-off fashion is not the preferred way. You want to do it earlier and we had our chances. But I am still happy with the win. And we need wins. We need them the rest of the year.”