'Nadoes turn back late Defenders rally.


Byline: Chad Garner

WORCESTER - So much for cruise control.

With Worcester leading, 9-1, in the ninth inning, the fans were hoping for a quick 1-2-3 inning so they could watch the fireworks.

But the ninth inning turned out to be a show of its own, as the American Defenders of New Hampshire plated seven runs in their final at-bat and had the tying run at third base. But closer Anthony Sullivan got a groundout to first base to preserve the Tornadoes' nail-biting, 9-8 victory at Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field.

"Sometimes it doesn't matter if you win 9-1 or 9-8," Worcester manager Rich Gedman said. "You have to give the other team credit for hanging in there, but our guys were able to get the job done. Sometimes you have to win them ugly."

Worcester left-hander Zach Zuercher picked up his first win of the season with six outstanding innings. The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder, who played in the St. Louis Cardinals organization from 2005-08, yielded four hits, one earned run, no walks and struck out eight while throwing 77 pitches.

"He was lights out," said Worcester third baseman Chris Colabello, who was 2 for 4 with an RBI. "He's had two great starts for us and looked great in spring training. We're lucky to have him."

In the ninth, New Hampshire roughed up Worcester reliever Jusef Frias for six runs, highlighted by Chris Kelly's grand slam. Sullivan came in with runners at the corners and walked the No. 9 hitter to load the bases. Sullivan got Lemon to bounce back to the mound and threw home for the second out, but the catcher's throw sailed over first and down the right-field line, allowing two more runs to score.

But Sullivan stranded Lemon at third with a game-ending groundout to pick up his fourth save.

Worcester jumped out to a 4-0 lead with four runs in the second inning off New Hampshire starting pitcher Brett Palanski.


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