Astoria 13, Banks 7

It was far from “routine” – by Astoria standards – but the end result was the same it’s been for the last three league games: 10-plus runs and another win for the Fishermen.

Several blunders by the Banks Braves led to a nine-run second inning for Astoria, and that was enough to propel the Fishermen to a 13-7 victory at Ernie Aiken Field, in the showdown for first place in Cowapa League baseball.

“They score runs and they’re very athletic,” Astoria coach Dave Gasser said of the Braves, who drop to 5-2 in league, while Astoria improves to 6-1. The two teams meet Wednesday at Banks.

“They have a lot of guys who can run the bases … they’re a very dangerous team,” Gasser said. “The main thing is that you can’t give them any free passes, because they run the bases so well. We didn’t strike out many guys (two). They put the ball in play, and it’s going to be a battle every time we play them.”

The Braves led 4-1 at one point, and were within one strike of getting out of the second inning with a 4-3 lead.

And they got the strike – a swing and a miss by Astoria’s Frankie Leonardi – but the Banks catcher was unable to hold on to the ball, allowing Leonardi to reach first, and Cody Fox to score the tying run.

And that opened the floodgates for the Fishermen.

Taylor Holthusen followed with a pop fly into shallow center field – which was dropped by the Braves’ second baseman – allowing two more runs to score.

After a walk and a pitching change, Astoria’s Tony Rudolfi capped the big inning – or rather, his big inning – with a three-run single to deep left field.

Earlier in the inning, Rudolfi belted a two-run homer to spark the nine-run inning for Astoria.

Astoria’s No. 8 and 9 hitters – Rudolfi and Carter Wallace – combined for four hits and five RBI’s.

“We always try to do some damage at the bottom of the order, and this year is no exception,” Gasser said. “That nine-run inning pretty much changed the whole nature of the game. Because when (the Braves) are in their ‘hit-the-ball, drag bunt, run-the-bases’ mode, they’re a scary team.”

Banks battled back with a run in the fourth and two in the fifth to pull within 10-7, but Astoria tacked on two runs in the bottom of the fifth. Holthusen drove in Fox with a single, and another run scored on one of three balks by the Banks pitchers.

Fox had an RBI single in the sixth to cap the scoring, and the Fishermen turned a 4-3 double play to end the game in the seventh.

Andrew Bergeson was the winning pitcher, allowing seven hits over five innings before giving way to Kai Brown, who faced the minimum number of batters in the sixth and seventh.