Austin Nola didn't seem to believe the New Orleans Baby Cakes had won their sixth consecutive home series, a franchise record.
However, Nola played a big part in the game that clinched it in Thursday's 3-2 victory against the Round Rock Express in Metairie.
After reaching base on an error in the bottom of the ninth with the score 2-2, Nola sped from first to third on a third-strike wild pitch to Steve Lombardozzi, which produced the second out.
“I just figured I'd take a risk; it could be worth the reward,” Nola said. “I know that in a close game like that, you get a runner on third, the defense tenses up.”
Players also are taught not to make the third out at third base.
“After I got to third and saw how close the play was, I thought 'It might now have been worth it,' ” he said, chuckling. “But (manager Arnie Beyeler) has been preaching all along to us to be aggressive.”
Eury Perez then hit a slow roller to first base. Round Rock first baseman Will Middlebrooks charged the ball and, rushing because of Perez's speed, couldn't field it and make the throw to pitcher Tayler Scott in what would have been a very close play at first if there was a chance at all.
Nola raced across home plate with the winning run, giving the Cakes a 2-0 lead in the three-game series.
The Cakes' first win in the series also came on hustle and had an element of vindication. In the fifth inning of Wednesday's game, Baby Cakes first baseman Cal Towey saw Jared Hoying reach base when a slow roller put Towey in no man's land and hit the first-base bag. Jurickson Profar then smoked an RBI double past Towey. Willie Calhoun followed with a single off Towey's glove, plating Profar for a 2-1 lead. Middlebrooks then doubled off Towey's glove.
“I just kept my mind in the game,” Towey said.
The Cakes tied the score in the bottom of the sixth. Then, with one out and the bases loaded, Towey ground to second for what appeared to be an innning-ending, rally-killing double play. However, he beat it out, scoring Lombardozzi with the go-ahead run in a 6-3 win.
Towey went 0-for-4.
“But that effort gave us the lead and changed the complexion of the game,” Beyeler said. “He just kept grinding.”
Third baseman Brian Anderson, who came out of Wednesday's game in the fourth inning with a concussion, said he was examined Thursday and it was determined to be mild. In keeping with concussion protocol, Anderson has to miss a week. “I'm going through the process right now, taking all the protocol seriously, taking all the tests,” he said. “I should be back to doing some baseball activity (Saturday). I'm not having any more symptoms or anything like that. It's a very mild concussion is what they diagnosed me with, so I should be ready to go in a week or so.” Anderson, the Marlins' top hitting prospect, said he had a concussion once before — in 2015. He is batting .354 with seven home runs. The Cakes are 9-2 with him in the cleanup spot.