By JOHN LIKANJE
On June 17, 1961, the Rochester Red Wings trailed in the bottom of the final frame for the third time in their last five games. They were successful in their previous two comeback attempts. This date would be no different thanks to Luke Easter’s pinch-hit, two-run single which lifted the Wings to a 7-6 win over the Richmond Virginians.
Trailing 6-5, Bobby Johnson started the rally with a one-out walk. Joe Durham doubled to right field, advancing Johnson to third base and spoiling Virginians starter Frank Carpin’s complete game bid. Fred Kipp came in relief and walked Ray Barker to load the bases.
Red Wings manager Clyde King elected Easter to pinch hit for John Powell as the more experienced veteran. The move paid off as Easter swatted a knee-high fastball back up the middle through the drawn-in infield to bring in Durham and Johnson.
“I thought it was a strike,” Easter said to the Democrat and Chronicle after the game. “I just wanted to get that ball out into center so we could at least tie. Worked out fine, didn’t it?”
The game was part of a stretch which, to King, were “the most exciting baseball games I’ve ever managed.” Four nights prior, Barker mashed a two-out, two-run shot in the seventh inning to beat the Columbus Clippers. On Friday, June 16, he came up clutch again with the game-winning sacrifice fly in the ninth inning. Then Easter capped off the wild week with his heroics.
Art Kay was awarded with the victory for his scoreless inning of relief after Red Wings starter Herb Moford was lit up for four home runs and six runs allowed. Dick Leopold and Dick Luebke both pitched a scoreless inning as well and combined with Kay for six strikeouts overall.
Bottom 1st: Barry Shetrone walks. Bobby Johnson homers. Red Wings 2, Virginians 0
Top 4th: Jim Pisoni connects on a three-run homer after an error and a walk. Virginians 3, Red Wings 2
Top 4th: John Jaciuk homers. Virginians 4, Red Wings 2
Top 5th: Jake Gibbs homers. Virginians 5, Red Wings 2
Top 5th: Tom Tresh goes back-to-back with Gibbs. Virginians 6, Red Wings 2
Bottom 5th: Barry Shetrone walks. Bobby Johnson doubles. Shetrone scores. Virginians 6, Red Wings 3
Bottom 8th: Ron Samford connects on a pinch-hit, two-run double after two walks. Virginians 6, Red Wings 5
Bottom 9th: Bobby Johnson walks. Bobby Durham doubles to right. Johnson advances to third. Ray Barker walks. Luke Easter singles up the middle. Johnson and Durham score. Red Wings 7, Virginians 6
a-Struck out for Moford in 5th, b-Reached on error for Leopold in 7th, c-Doubled for Luebke in 8th, d-Singled for Powell in 9th
E-Tresh, Barker. PO-A Richmond 25-7; Rochester 27-12. DP-Moford, Kabbes and Powell; Johnson and Powell (2); Carrio; Tresh and Jaciuk; Gonder and Asaro; Barker, Johnson and Powell. LOB-Richmond 1; Rochester 8. 2B-Johnson, Samford, Durham. HR-Johnson, Pisoni, Jaciuk, Gibbs, Tresh
x-Faced two batters in 9th; 1 out when winning run scored. U-Weaver, Dimuro, Odom.
Also on this day: 2005 – The Red Wings dropped their second straight game to Toledo 3-1 in a rain-shortened game Friday night at Frontier Field. Todd Dunwoody’s double to score Kevin West accounted for the Wings’ only hit of the game. 1933 – The Red Wings captured both ends of a doubleheader against Jersey City, 9-2 and 4-0. The Skeeters only combined for seven hits off Fritz Ostermueller and Ira Delos Smith in both games. Ostermueller got his 11th victory of the season as well as his 13th complete game. 2006 – David Espinosa’s two-run double helped the Toledo Mud Hens defeat the Red Wings 10-4 Saturday night at Frontier Field, before a season-high crowd of 12,223. Rochester had won 13 of their last 16 games before the Saturday loss. Garrett Jones added to his league-leading RBI total with a home run.