They were former summer teammates, the two starting pitchers Saturday; Northern California travel league partners who went to separate high schools 30 miles apart but shared the same bus and, in an historic matchup, the same mound years apart.
In a reunion of epic proportions, Joe Ross, starting pitcher for the TinCaps, and Robert Stephenson, of Dayton – pitchers who were selected two spots away from each other in the 2011 MLB draft – exchanged scoreless rockets for seven innings, gave way to their bullpens, and set the tone for what up as a 1-0 pitchers’ duel TinCaps victory that ended in the bottom of the 12th inning.
Mallex Smith opened the 12th with a bunt that bounced off the glove of diving Dayton pitcher Joel Bender. When Smith was sacrificed to second, Maxx Tissenbaum drilled a single into center field. Dayton outfielder Beau Amaral fired a dart to home, but Smith slid beneath the tag for the game-winning run.
It was the sixth consecutive victory for the TinCaps (37-23), who opened the six-game home stand against the Dragons (26-35).