MOOSIC — It seems like teams have more breaks go against them than in their favor.
On Sunday, the RailRiders had some lucky bounces occur during an eighth-inning rally and ninth-inning hold off to help Scranton/Wilkes-Barre defeat Pawtucket 5-4 at PNC Field.
After Kyle Roller beat out a possible double-play grounder with one out in the eighth, Zelous Wheeler singled to right on a ball that had topspin, bouncing over the first base bag and changing direction before landing in right field.
“It looked foul then went fair. I don’t know what happened. That’s the game of baseball,” Wheeler said. “Sometimes you get those breaks and you have to take advantage of it.”
That brought Austin Romine up with runners on first and third. The catcher skied one to right field that looked like it would go for a sacrifice fly to score Roller. But the ball hit Pawtucket right fielder Alex Hassan as he appeared to have lost it in the sun. Romine got a double on the play and Roller scored to give SWB its first lead of the game.
“The team was putting me in situations where I just need to hit a flyball to get a run,” Romine said. “I just really wanted to focus on getting the run in and get the team back in the game.”
Then, in the top of the ninth inning with Danny Burawa looking for his third save of the season and Pawtucket runners on first and third, the RailRiders benefited again.
Mookie Betts was off from first on the pitch to Mike McCoy prompting RailRiders shortstop Carmen Angelini to move to his left to cover second. Angelini ran right to where McCoy hit the ball. If Betts doesn’t run, McCoy ties the game with a single.
“That’s baseball. That’s luck,” Burawa said. “I’ve never seen that happen. I’m not complaining either. It kinda worked out.”
Burawa had been struggling of late allowing six runs in 7 1/3 innings in June while giving up six walks and eight hits. And despite allowing two hits on Sunday, he said the outing was a shot of confidence.
“To have my defense pick me up, it reinforces that if you’re around the strikezone, you give your defense an opportunity to pick you up. And if you’re walking guys there’s nothing you can do, you’re on your own.”
The breaks didn’t go Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s way in the second and third inning with Shane Greene pitching.
The right-hander allowed three runs in the second with two coming home on a softly hit bloop double down the left field line by Dan Butler that gave the PawSox a 3-1 lead.
In the fourth, a similar hit by Carlos Rivero to right field scored a run and gave Pawtucket a 4-1 lead. But this run was manufactured by rehabbing Red Sox infielder Will Middlebrooks (2 for 4), who singled, moved to second on a flyout to center, then raced home on Rivero’s hit.
“That’s kinda been the thing for Greeney, a flair hit here, a bloop hit there,” Romine said. “It was kinda hard luck out there for him today. He’s gonna keep working hard and he’ll be fine.”
Rob Refsnyder, who had six homers for Double-A Trenton before getting promoted on June 11, belted his first Triple-A home run to give the RailRiders a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. The solo shot sailed into the Pawtucket bullpen.
The RailRiders got two runs back in the bottom of the third taking advantage of a Pawtucket error, wild pitch and a passed ball to cut the deficit to a run at 4-3.
They tied the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the sixth with the help of Kyle Roller, who beat out a throw to first on a possible double-play then scored on a sac fly by Austin Romine to shallow center.
Greene continued his trend of solid starts for the RailRiders since giving up eight runs in just three innings on June 5. The right-hander threw five innings allowing three earned runs and hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in four of his last five starts.
He also broke a string of RailRiders starters not lasting at least five innings. The 25-year-old became the first to do so since Bruce Billings went seven innings on June 18 against Toledo.
Switch-pitcher Pat Venditte (2-2) threw three perfect innings in relief of Greene to get the win needing to throw just 30 pitches to get through those frames.