Erie, PA – Steven Souza, Jr. hit a towering game-winning home run in the top of the ninth inning, and the Harrisburg Senators took Game 1 of the Western Division Championship Series 5-4 over the Erie SeaWolves at Jerry Uht Park.
The teams traded home runs in the first inning, both coming with two out. Justin Bloxom belted a two-run shot for the Senators and Tyler Collins responded with a three-run shot for Erie.
Harrisburg tied the game with a run in the fourth. With one out, Carlos Rivero singled and Sean Nicol followed with a walk. Jerad Head, who had doubled earlier in the contest, lined a single to left to bring home Rivero.
The SeaWolves re-took the lead in the seventh. Brandon Douglas led off with a double and moved to third on a ground out. With the infield in, Jamie Johnson hit a grounder to second and Douglas broke for the plate. The throw and Douglas arrived at virtually the same time, Douglas ran over Harrisburg catcher Brian Jeroloman, and was able to dislodge the ball.
The Senators responded with a run to even the score at four in the eighth. With the bases loaded and one down, Billy Burns delivered a sacrifice-fly to shallow right, scoring Sean Nicol.
Souza's blast came on an 0-2 pitch leading off the ninth against Erie closer Melvin Mercedes, who had a 1.44 ERA during the regular season.
A.J. Cole tossed six innings and the only blemish was the three-run homer he allowed in the first. The right-hander gave up seven hits, one walk, and struck out four. Richie Mirowski earned the win with a pair of innings out of the Harrisburg bullpen. After allowing a run in the seventh, he bounced back with a 1-2-3 eighth. Tyler Herron hit the leadoff batter in the bottom of the ninth, but responded by striking out the next three to close out the game.