COLORADO SPRINGS — Series openers have been rather harsh on the Vibes, but tonight, UCHealth Park felt plenty of good vibrations. The Vibes captured their first series opener since July 30th, walking off with a 7-6 victory on Saturday night in Colorado Springs. The largest crowd in UCHealth Park’s history—7,048—all witnessed the fourth walk-off in the Vibes’ inaugural season. Joe Gray Jr.—the Brewers’ No. 10 prospect—belted his first homerun of the season at the perfect time with the game-winner for the Vibes tonight. Gray Jr. sent a 3-2 fastball over the left field fence and sent the Vibes faithful into hysteria.
It was an ideal pitcher’s matchup with the Vibes sending All-Star Karsen Lindell to the bump and the Raptors countering with Yeison Cespedes. Lindell stayed true to form in his second start since the all-star break. The right-hander tossed five innings allowing just two runs on six hits and two walks while striking out four. He got massive help on defense as well; highlighted by second baseman Nick Egnatuk. With runners on the corners, Egnatuk charged a slowly hit ground ball behind the pitcher’s mound to throw out Raptors shortstop Zac Ching at first base to preserve the shutout and end the third inning.
The Vibes offense would bounce back from the shutout loss on Thursday night producing the seven runs on 13 hits; eight of them for extra bases. The underlying offensive highlight came from left fielder Carlos Rodriguez, who pushed his hitting streak to a team-best nine games with a second-inning single to right.
After scoring just four runs in their final two games of the roadtrip, the offense matched that run total in just the second inning. Catcher Nick Kahle led off the inning with a double off the left field wall, and right fielder Micah Bello followed with a single to right to put runners on the corners for first baseman Ernesto Martinez Jr. He would scorch a baseball into the right-centerfield gap to drive home both Kahle and Bello on a two-run triple. Martinez Jr. would come across home plate on a Cam Devanney grounder to the shortstop. Designated Hitter Michael Wilson added the fourth and final run of the inning when he turned on a 2-0 pitch and sent it soaring over the right field fence for his fifth homerun of the season.
The Raptors would respond in the top of the fifth inning. With one out and a runner on, designated hitter Jorbit Vivas sent a pitch over the fence in right for his first homerun in just his seventh game with Ogden. Heading into the bottom of the fifth, the Vibes still led 4-2.
With two outs and third baseman Bryan Torres at second, Kahle caught a bit of luck on a grounder that went off the glove of Brandon Lewis at first base. The ball trickled into the outfield and allowed Torres to come home and push the lead to 5-2.
No game with the Raptors is a simple task however. The Raptors came within one in the top of the seventh after back-to-back leadoff singles from second baseman Jeremy Arocho and catcher Cesar Mendoza. Arocho would score on a sacrifice fly to deep center by Vivas. Mendoza advanced to third. Mendoza would come home on a wild pitch shortly after by Brady Schanuel to trim the deficit to one.
The Vibes would add insurance in the bottom of the eighth. After Devanney reached safely on an error through the shortstop’s legs, Egnatuk would drive him home on a single to right to make it 6-4.
Again though, no game with the Raptors is a simple task. The Raptors tied the game in the top of the ninth with an RBI-single by Mendoza, followed by an RBI single by Ching two batters later.
As the leadoff man in the bottom of the ninth, Gray Jr. played the role of hero, and ended the game in outstanding fashion with a walkoff bomb.