'Nadoes hang on behind Maddox; Worcester earns split with Sussex.


Byline: Rick Eggleston

WORCESTER - The catcher in the first game of a doubleheader usually doesn't start in the second game.

And with Rich Gedman managing the Worcester Tornadoes, the former Red Sox catcher wasn't about to mess with protocol. He started Craig Maddox behind the plate in the abbreviated seven-inning nightcap of a day-night doubleheader against the Sussex Skyhawks last night at Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field.

Maddox, however, probably wished he started the first game because the Georgia native's head is likely still ringing from a fantastic collision at the plate in the fifth inning of the second game, a 7-5 victory over the Skyhawks. Maddox's ability to hold onto the ball turned out to be a key to the triumph.

His effort allowed the Tornadoes to earn a split of the doubleheader, the first game of which was a continuation of the June 6 scoreless game that was suspended after the fourth inning because of rain. Yesterday, the Skyhawks scored five runs in the seventh inning for a 5-4 win.

In the nightcap, Maddox caught and held onto a laser from outfielder Rick Asadoorian on a Chase Fontaine single to right and tagged out Kraig Binick trying to score from second. When Binick realized he was going to be a good seven feet short of making it home safely, he lowered the boom on Maddox, who was sent flying backward, but held on to the ball for the out.

The out proved pivotal, as Fontaine was left stranded at second, and Worcester reliever Albert Ayala came on with the bases loaded and nobody out in the seventh to get a pop-up and a game-ending double play.

"It's a tough situation to come in up only one run, so I knew I had to keep the ball in the infield where one of our guys could make the play," said Ayala, who earned his second save in three chances. "I figured if I could get the first guy, I could get the ball down and get the double play, and that's what happened."

Ayala's heroics saved a strong outing by Worcester starter Jon Hollis, who tossed five innings, allowing two runs on six hits and fanning five for his first win.

The front end of the Tornadoes' bullpen...

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