The Garden City Wind (3-12) defeated the Santa Fe Fuego (8-3) Thursday night for a much-needed win. Although the Fuego outhit the Wind 12-4, Garden City came out victorious with a final score of 7-3.
Making his Wind debut was Rodney Polonia. The infielder from the Bridgeport Bluefish of the Atlantic League spent four years in the minor leagues. He ended the night 1-3 with a walk and several impressive plays at second base.
Craig Jaquez (2-1) had an outstanding performance on the mound as he held the red-hot Fuego to just two runs off eight hits in 6.1 innings pitched. He recorded eight strikeouts, a new season high for Jaquez. After a 20-pitch first inning, he kept his pitch count down with just 13 pitches in the second and third innings.
Despite two strikeouts, a Fuego run was able to score after a walk, a passed ball and a double down the left field line by shortstop Eddie Newton in the first.
Brandon Cooksey touched home for Garden City’s first run. Bases were loaded with Jacob Gonzalez up to bat. Fuego pitcher Francisco Rodriguez walked Gonzalez, sending Cooksey home to tie the game.
The bases remained loaded for Polonia, who sent the ball straight down the right field line for a base-clearing triple. Polonia’s first hit as a Wind player put the team up 4-1 over the Fuego in the second.
Extending the lead to 7-1, Garden City scored three more runs in the fifth. Polonia made his way across the plate after Newton bobbled the ball Cooksey put in play. Cooksey stole second before Ariel Adut was walked. With Cody Ellis batting, Cooksey stole third with Adut following suit and stealing second. The Wind’s speed paid off, as they were both able to score off of Ellis’s line drive to right center.
Santa Fe loaded the bases in the seventh with a pair of singles and a walk. Taking over on the mound and relieving Jaquez was Ryan Blinderman. He gave up just one single from Numata, tacking on another run for the Fuego. Giving the Wind a chance to breathe once again, Matt Patrone grounded out into a double play to end the inning and limit the damage.
Matthew McCormick stepped in to pitch in the eighth, allowing one more run to cross for the Fuego on three base hits.
Gonzalez moved from centerfield to the mound to close out the game in the ninth. Taking over in centerfield was James Floyd. Gonzalez was brilliant on the mound, striking out the side to claim the 7-3 win.
The Wind were quick on their feet with five stolen bases against Santa Fe with three from Cooksey, two from Polonia and one from Adut.
Fuego’s starter Rodriguez (1-2) picked up the loss despite giving up just two hits.