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Game 50: York 7, Bridgeport 1

Early on in the Atlantic League season, when faced with an 0-2 count, Matt Esquivel was the closest thing there was to a sure out.

The frustration mounted. So did the strikeouts. And Esquivel, 25 — originally projected as the York Revolution’s cleanup hitter — found himself hitting seventh or eighth on a lot of nights.

But the former Atlanta Braves’ prospect has undergone a metamorphosis of sorts lately. So when he was down 0-2 with runners on second and third base in the seventh inning Monday night, he battled. And Esquivel came through with the clutch hit that has eluded York for much of the year.

Esquivel battled back to a full count against Bridgeport pitcher T.J. Tucker, fouled off a few pitches and ripped a two-run single into the gap in left field that propelled the Revs to a 7-1 victory at Sovereign Bank Stadium before an announced crowd of 3,084. The hit broke a 1-1 tie and York (19-31) was also aided by a terrific start from Dave Gil (seven innings, one earned run, six strikeouts).

“You have to know the situation and they’re not going to hand you the game,” said Esquivel, who has hit safely in 11 straight games and 17 of 18. “They want you to go chasing pitches first and I ended up laying off some (in the dirt). Fortunately, I came out on top.”

Gil (1-2) was marvelous in his fifth start with York since being re-acquired on May 16. The only damage done against the University of Miami product was a monster solo homer by Jesse Hoorelbeke in the second inning. But Bluefish starter Ryan DiPietro made the lone run stand up for quite some time thanks to some poor situational hitting by the Revs (York had the leadoff runner reach in the third, fifth and sixth but failed to score).

Luckily, that all changed in the seventh. Catcher Luis Taveras led off with a broken bat single to center and moved to second on Enrique Cruz’s bloop single down the line in right. Then after a Keoni De Renne sacrifice bunt, the newly acquired Kennard Jones hit a sacrifice fly to left to score Taveras and tie the game.

After Chris Ashby walked, Esquivel came up with the big hit and promptly stole second base. He came around on Jason Aspito’s RBI single and Cruz launched his first home run of the year — a three-run bomb over the Arch Nemesis — in the eighth for his third hit.

It all helped York get its first win of the year against the Bluefish (25-25) in four tries and improve to 1-4 in Gil’s starts.

“He is doing great and this is the best I’ve seen him,” Taveras said of Gil. “He used a lot of fastballs tonight and it worked.”

Said Gil: “I’ve felt better after every outing, I just wasn’t putting it all together. I’m trying to get in shape and get my mechanics together and tonight it all happened.”

Notes: York made a bevy of roster moves Monday. Matt Dryer was placed on the inactive list so that he could return home to Rochester, N.Y. for a family illness. Injured starting pitcher Pete Munro, who was suffering from serious labrum damage, was released. And the Revs signed middle infielder Sam Rosario. … Rosario was picked up from Nashua of the Can-Am League and is a .261 career hitter in the minors with Class-A experience. … Enrique Cruz (pictured) had arguably his best game in a Revolution uniform. His homer in the eighth was a no-doubter. … Manager Chris Hoiles said Aaron Rakers will likely return to the bullpen after his start Wednesday. Heath Totten could take Rakers’ spot in the rotation. … Nick McCurdy and Dave Veres pitched a scoreless inning apiece in relief of Gil. … Kennard Jones had an impressive bunt single in the first inning but was thrown out trying to steal third base. Still, Jones showed a lot of enthusiasm in his first home start. … Keoni De Renne and Matt Padgett were the only starters without a hit. De Renne had two sac bunts and Padgett flied out to the warning track on a deep shot to right field. … Calvin Pickering was caught stealing for Bridgeport in one of the funniest moments I’ve ever seen in a baseball. Pickering was not being held on first base and decided to get cute and steal second. But Dave Gil picked him off with rather ease. Pickering, who must be pushing 3 1/2 bills these days, gave up the rundown pretty quickly.

*John Pavoncello photos.


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