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Orioles win with ‘weird’ walk-off finish against Dominican Republic

SARASOTA, FLA. — A back-and-forth final few innings of what had initially been a sleepy exhibition game against the Dominican Republic ended with the Orioles spoiling the first part of the visitors' preparation for the World Baseball Classic with a 5-4, walk-off win Tuesday at Ed Smith Stadium.

Because the Dominican team's pitchers are limited in how much they can throw before and during the tournament, the Orioles had to lend a handful of pitchers to the visitors to fill nine innings of baseball.

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The on-loan pitchers — Richard Rodriguez, Jefri Hernandez, Gabriel Ynoa, and Luis Gonzalez — donned the visiting gray uniforms and were ultimately responsible for a wild ending. The Orioles took a 3-2 lead off Rodriguez on an RBI single by catcher Audry Perez, only to see right-hander Joe Gunkel give it back with a pair of runs in the ninth inning.

But in their last at-bat, with Hernandez pitching for the Dominican team, the Orioles scored the tying run on a throwing error by the pitcher on a sacrifice bunt by outfielder Joey Rickard, then scored the game-winning run on a wild pitch.

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"That was weird," manager Buck Showalter said.

The Orioles took an early lead when Yankees reliever Dellin Betances loaded the bases in the third inning before left fielder Hyun Soo Kim singled to plate a pair of runs. The Dominican team got both of its run in the sixth inning without managing a hit, thanks to four walks and a wild pitch.

Gausman, who pitched three shutout innings, was backed up by two scoreless innings from Logan Verrett. Zach Stewart didn't allow an earned run in 1 1/3 innings, and Jed Bradley pitched a scoreless eighth before the Dominican team rallied against Gunkel in the ninth. To that point, the Orioles had allowed just one hit.

Kim finds elusive hit off lefty: Kim didn't have a hit off a left-handed pitcher in 2016, and seldom faced one in spring training before breaking that trend in the third inning. Facing Washington Nationals left-hander Enny Romero, whose fastball can reach 98 mph, Kim worked the count full before a bases-loaded single scored two.

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"He's had a lot of good at-bats," Showalter said." Kim is swinging the bat well, having some deep counts, deep at-bats. He and Seth [Smith] have had some very similar at-bats, getting deep in the count, some walks. Kim had a lot of good at-bats today."

Unfortunately for Kim, it comes in an exhibition game and thus won't be credited in his official Grapefruit League statistics.

Brach blows up: Orioles reliever Brad Brach looked like he was ready to pitch in real games Saturday in Port Charlotte against the Tampa Bay Rays, but couldn't find the strike zone Tuesday when his name was called for the sixth inning.

The first batter he faced, Welington Castillo, popped out to center field to begin the game, but four of the next five batters Brach faced walked before he was lifted by Showalter.

"He struck one guy out, but they didn't call it," Showalter said. "It was just command a little bit. He barely missed. He's saving his bullets against those guys. It's funny, watching guys like Brad, Darren [O'Day], even Zach [Britton], when they're pitching to get work in the games. When there's a big margin there and they're not in the role they're normally in, they don't show them the way they're going to pitch them."

Brach was ultimately charged with two runs, with the second scoring on a wild pitch by Stewart, who relieved him.

Castillo came, too: Third baseman Manny Machado got all the attention, but Castillo returned to Sarasota after a brief absence to face his teammates, too. Castillo made an impact defensively, throwing out outfielder Aneury Tavarez on a steal attempt with two outs in the sixth inning, but went 0-for-3 at the plate.

twitter.com/JonMeoli

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