NEWARK – Former Pittsburgh Pirates catcher J.R. House delivered a two-run double with one out in the bottom of the 10th inning, giving the Newark Bears a thrilling come-from-behind 10-9 victory over the Camden Riversharks in their Atlantic League season opener Thursday night at Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium.
The final score was the lone time that the Bears (1-0) held a lead all evening. House’s double scored Nook Logan and Kennard Jones, who both walked against Camden reliever and losing pitcher Jon Ellis (0-1), who was given a 9-8 lead in the top of the 10th inning on an RBI double by Garrett Guzman, making a winner out of Bears reliever Michael Nix (1-0), the fourth Bears pitcher.
Former World Series hero Scott Spiezio drove in three runs, including a clutch two-out, two-strike RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning to send the game into extra innings for the Bears.
The Bears went into the ninth inning trailing by two runs and facing Camden closer Blaine Neal, a former major leaguer who once pitched for the Florida Marlins. But the Bears rallied with clutch RBI singles by former major leaguers Daryle Ward and Spiezio to send the game to the 10th inning.
Mike Costanzo had two hits, including a crucial grand slam in the third inning, keying a three-homer attack for the Riversharks. Val Pascucci belted a two-run homer and Jason Botts added a solo homer for the Riversharks.
Derek Blacksher was the Bears’ starter and he had a tough time, surrendering seven earned runs in six innings in suffering the setback.
The Riversharks drew first blood in the top of the second inning on a solo homer from Botts, but the Bears tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the second on a RBI double from Spiezio, scoring fellow former major leaguer Fernando Seguinol, who walked.
But the Riversharks broke the game open in the third inning by scoring four runs, all scoring on Costanzo’s long grand slam to right field, pushing the Camden lead to 5-1.
The Bears cut the lead to 5-2 on Spiezio’s sacrifice fly, but Camden hit its third homer of the game off Blacksher, when Pascucci took a fastball deep over the left field wall, pushing the lead to 7-2.
The Bears received a solo homer from Toms River native Paddy Matera, playing in his first professional game, cutting the deficit to 7-3. The Bears then scored three unearned runs in the bottom of the seventh, when former Washington Nationals speedster Logan doubled and scored on an error, then Seguinol hit a bomb to left-center for a two-run homer, bringing the Bears to within a run at 7-6.
But the Riversharks added an insurance run in the top of the eighth off Bears reliever Pedro Rivera, a native of Elizabeth who pitched for Kean University and was making his professional debut.
Seguinol, Spiezio, Ward and Kennard Jones all had two hits apiece to pace the Bears.
Newark and Camden continue their series on Friday. Game time is set for 7:05, with the Riverfront Stadium gates opening at 6:05.
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