MOOSIC – It’s not always easy to build off a loss.
But in the RailRiders 9-4 loss on Sunday to Lehigh Valley, they will hope the late rally continues into today’s four-game series finale against the IronPigs.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre scored all four runs and picked up five of their seven hits on the afternoon in the bottom of the ninth.
With the loss, manager Dave Miley remains one win short of tying Marc Bombard’s record for the most wins in franchise history of 574.
The RailRiders offense got going too late. The late outburst kept them from being shutout for the third time this season. Zoilo Almonte singled in a pair of runs in the inning, while Adonis Garcia and Ronnier Mustelier had run-scoring singles. The offense started to come around an inning prior, when Francisco Arcia had a 15-pitch at-bat that ended in a fly out, but it was the start of some positives the team hopes to continue today.
“That’s how the train keeps rolling to tomorrow with what we did that last inning there and putting up some runs,” first baseman Russ Canzler said. “You try to take any positive you can and you learn from your failures, too, whether it’s your pitching or fielding, and be ready to go the next day.”
Miley, meanwhile is looking for consistency.
“Usually, when we do get something going, it’s past the fifth, sixth inning and that’s something we have to find a way to try to produce something early if we can,” he said.
The game started off the right way for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre with no score after three innings, but the IronPigs did their damage in the middle innings to put the game out of reach.
RailRiders starter Caleb Cotham opened by striking out the side in the first and fanning four of the first seven batters he faced as the IronPigs batters looked to be overly aggressive early on.
Once the hitters became patient and saw Cotham the second time around, they locked in on pitches they could do something with.
Maikel Franco singled to start the fourth inning, and was nearly stranded until consecutive two-out extra-base hits opened the scoring. Catcher Koyie Hill tripled to the left-center gap on a 2-2 count for the first run of the game. The next batter, Steve Susdorf, lifted the first pitch from Cotham to right for a double to score Hill.
Lehigh Valley put up a four-spot in the top of the fifth to chase Cotham. The big hit in the inning came from Philadelphia’s top prospect Franco (3 for 5, 2 runs, 2 RBI), who doubled in two. Reid Brignac and Hill (4 for 5) also added RBI hits as the IronPigs opened a 6-0 lead.
Cotham was done after 4 1/3 innings, allowing six hits and five runs (four earned) as the IronPigs took advantage of an error by third baseman Jose Toussen in the fifth when he dropped a pop up in between the plate and the pitcher’s mound. Cotham had to throw 76 pitches to get through his four-plus innings.
Meanwhile, the RailRiders’ offense was stifled by Lehigh Valley starter Cesar Jimenez. The lefty faced the minimum number of batters in the five innings he pitched. He only gave up one hit – a single to Francisco Arcia – but that was erased on a double play. He only needed to throw 55 pitches while striking out three and not walking any. He was also very efficient with his pitches as he threw first-pitch strikes to 10 of the 15 batters he faced.
“I only got to see him twice but it looked like he was commanding his fastball well and throwing his change-ups for strikes. Anytime a guy is throwing both those pitches for strikes, it’s going to be a battle at best,” Canzler said. “You tip your cap to him on a good job. He kept us out of rhythm at the plate with a lot of first-pitch outs and taking a lot of strikes. He did a really good job.”
SWB got a little rally going in the sixth when Jimenez was lifted for Kyle Simon. That’s when the team got runners on first and second with one out against the righty, who had some problems throwing strikes. But those two were stranded when Antoan Richardson flied out and Jose Pirela popped out.
The IronPigs added three more runs in the seventh on five hits while sending eight batters to the plate to open a 9-0 lead.