MOOSIC – When the current series between the RailRiders and Indianapolis started on Monday with a slugfest, it looked like the rest of the four-game set would be the same way.
But so far, it’s been the complete opposite.
On Wednesday morning, the teams were locked in a pitcher’s duel for the second straight day. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre right-hander Brian Gordon was the star this time as he threw seven innings helping the RailRiders to a 3-1 win at PNC Field.
With the win, SWB won its fourth straight game for its first four-game winning streak since claiming five in a row from July 24-29 last season.
“I think we’re starting to feed off one another, find our rhythm; the hitters are putting in good at-bats every time. We’re making nice plays on defense and the pitchers are starting to get on a roll because of defense,” said closer Matt Daley, who picked up his fourth save of the season after allowing a walk in the ninth inning.
RailRiders starter Brian Gordon tied a career high with seven innings pitched, the latest time coming on June 1, 2011 against Pawtucket when he pitched for the SWB Yankees.
Like Chase Whitley on Tuesday night, Gordon was very efficient with his pitches against an aggressive Indians club. He threw 85 pitches with 55 strikes and induced eight groundball outs, while striking out three.
“Executing pitches, that gives you the best chance possible right there,” Gordon said, “if you go out there and execute, and just try to pay attention to what the hitters are doing.”
Gregory Polanco, the Pirates’ top prospect who is hitting .538 (7 for 13) in the series, got the scoring started with a run-scoring double in the top of the first inning. It scored Jaff Decker, who also has been having a stellar series in Moosic while raising his batting average on the season more than .100 points to .222 in the first three games of the set.
“They are a great hitting team, but our job as a pitching staff is to offset that,” Gordon added. “Changing speeds and give them different looks - Chase did a phenomenal job (Tuesday) doing it. I got to sit and watch him do it. So I took some pointers from that game and used them today.”
The RailRiders answered in the bottom of the first as SWB RBI machine Zoilo Almonte picked up a run-scoring double of his own, driving in Antoan Richardson to knot the score at 1-1. His 22 runs batted in are tied for sixth in the International League.
After Almonte’s two-bagger, Indianapolis starter Brandon Cumpton retired nine in a row before Adonis Garcia singled with two outs in the fourth.
The score remained tied until the bottom of the seventh when the RailRiders forged ahead with their second unearned run in the game. This time, Cumpton’s second error helped SWB as Jose Pirela reached on the error allowing Zelous Wheeler – who extended his hitting streak to nine games with a single earlier in the frame – to reach third. After one out was recorded, Ramon Flores hit a sacrifice fly to score Wheeler and boost the lead to 2-1.
The RailRiders added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth when Wheeler walked with the bases loaded to up the lead to 3-1.