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#5 Moment in Blue Sox Franchise History: “Walkoff City is Officially Born” (June 15-22, 2016: Utica Blue Sox vs. Jamestown Jammers on June 15, Utica Blue Sox vs. Glens Falls Dragons on June 18, Utica Blue Sox vs. Elmira Pioneers on June 22)

Time Capsule

The 2016 season was so magical for a variety of reasons for the Utica Blue Sox. One of the predominant reasons as to why this was the case was because of the birth of “Walkoff City.” The team got their first walkoff win of the season on June 8 in the nightcap of a doubleheader against the Adirondack Trail Blazers when Kyle Winkler cranked a two-run double with no outs and the bases loaded to win it by a final of 8-7. Exactly one week later, they walked it off again, this time against the Jamestown Jammers. The Blue Sox blew a 3-2 lead in the top of the 9th, but Dylan Hutcheson tied it at 4 on an RBI single to score Robbie Young and Jared Baldinelli won it with a double down the third base line. The walkoff trend only continued three days later against the Glens Falls Dragons. Glens Falls scored a run in each of the first two innings on six total hits, but starting pitcher Brian Kavanagh settled in from there and allowed three hits with no walks over his final five innings pitched. In the 7th, the Blue Sox finally did some damage against Glens Falls starter Bryan Warzek, scoring their first run on a throwing error by Brian Granton before Hutcheson tied the game at 2 on an RBI single. “Hutch” would come up clutch yet again when he came up with the winning run just 90 feet away with two outs in the bottom of the 9th. Facing lefty reliever John Bednarek, he slapped a single up the middle on the first pitch he saw to bring Franklin Jennings home and establish Utica as “Walkoff City” with their third such win in just 10 days. The team won their next two games over Mohawk Valley and Newark at home, setting up a matchup with the Elmira Pioneers at Murnane Field on June 22 with both teams coming into the game at 12-5 atop the PGCBL West Division. Elmira drew first blood in the 2nd on a two-run double from catcher Nick Graham, but Utica took the lead with three runs in the 4th on an RBI single from Anthony Young and a two-run double off the bat of Mason Fessler. However, Elmira tied it at 3 in the 7th on an RBI single from Kyle Ruth against Jared Solomon. The score stayed 3-3 entering the bottom of the 9th and for the third consecutive Wednesday, “Walkoff City” came alive for the third time in the span of a week as Joe Spitaleri lined a single into left field to bring home Hutcheson, who came in as a pinch runner in that inning for Fessler, to move Utica into first place. The team then rode the wave of momentum from this even more as they won five more in a row to compile a nine-game win streak, which helped propel the team high into the national summer collegiate baseball rankings, rising from #20 to #12 in the nation at the end of June and peaking at #9 in the country the following week.

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