SAN ANTONIO — Down 3-0 with two outs in the seventh inning, San Antonio batters connected on four straight singles to tie the game.
Still knotted going to the bottom of the ninth, Jake Perez, who was called up from the ACL prior to the game, led off with a bunt single and advanced to second base after a pitch hit Ripken Reyes. The red-hot Tirso Ornelas finished off the comeback with a walk-off single to right field to give the home team the victory.
“The offense didn’t start out the best this year, but where we have gotten to now is a never-quit approach,” said Missions manager Luke Montz near a loud San Antonio locker room. “Down 3-0, this team keeps having solid at-bats, and no one ever feels that we are ever out of the game.
“I liked that while everyone was excited, no one was surprised.”
Perez, 22, who signed out of Costa Rica three years ago and had played only 29 games in the Arizona Complex League, got the start at third base and was 2-for-4 in his very first game above the Rookie-ball level.
“In the dugout, they asked me if I knew how to bunt, and I said yes – they said then go do it,” said a smiling Perez . “I was nervous for my first game but also excited at the same time.”
The star of the game – and of June – was Ornelas, who went 3-for-5 after coming into the game hitting .372/.430/.692 for the month.
“I worked very hard in the offseason, and being with the big league club [in spring training] helped me a lot this year,” said Ornelas. “The big league players gave me a lot of advice, which has given me a lot of confidence.
“From where Tirso started this year to where he is now is just a complete 180,” said Montz on Ornelas, who had an OPS of .653 in April and .685 in May. “There was a little talk with it, there were some sit-downs, and he owned up to some things that he wasn’t quite doing, and it is amazing to see what he is doing on the field.
“The person that he believes he is, the confidence that he now has, and the big leaguer that he believes he will become is what you are seeing now.
Notes: Chandler Seagle was removed from the game after a collision with starting pitcher Daniel Camarena in the second inning, which Montz characterized as much more precautionary than a serious issue. … Ripken Reyes reached base twice tonight, once on a single and the hit-by-pitch. The switch-hitter has been hit by 25 pitches in 53 games this season and 83 in 257 career games. … Jose Espada has the start Saturday night, as San Antonio has evened the series.