MOOSIC – Bruce Billings didn’t have good stuff and was shaky during his first start at PNC Field on Sunday.
Or so he says.
“To tell you the truth, today was a rough day,” he said. “I just didn’t have it. Just getting loose was rough.”
But looking at his stat line, you wouldn’t know.
The right-hander, who was the RailRiders’ Opening Day starter, had a brilliant performance, pitching seven solid innings and allowing just one hit – a double that was misplayed by left fielder Zoilo Almonte in the second inning. Billings struck out two and walked two leading Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to a 7-1 win over Syracuse. He credits catcher Austin Romine for his great outing.
“Romie said ‘Just stick with me and we’ll get through it.’ It was a lot of trust in Romie and his pitch calls. I might have shaken him off one time all day,” said Billings, who kept hitters off-balance all afternoon with seven groundouts, eight flyouts and retired the last 10 batters he faced. “If I had taken a negative mindset into the game, it probably wouldn’t have went well. I probably would’ve been hanging my head after a bad pitch. But today was one of those days where I knew I would have to battle for whatever I got. And whatever happened, it’s OK to just move on and try to make the next pitch for me.”
While Billings was keeping the Chiefs’ bats at bay, the SWB offense was busy getting season highs in hits (15) and equaling its season-high in runs scored in a game.
The big contributor was leadoff hitter Ramon Flores, who went 4 for 4 with four runs scored, reached base five times and finished a home run shy of hitting for the cycle with two doubles. He also led off an inning twice with hits.
“Flores set the tone for us right off the bat,” RailRiders manager Dave Miley said. “I think a couple times he was hitting a leadoff double. So that’s good to see from him.”
The RailRiders scored at least one run in the first four innings off Syracuse starter Omar Poveda, who entered the game with an ERA over 15.00 and didn’t do much to help lower the number allowing six earned runs on 10 hits in just four innings.
Only picking up seven hits in Saturday’s doubleheader combined, the RailRiders were nearly halfway to that number after the first inning as they scored a run on an RBI-single by Russ Canzler.
The big frame was the second, as Scranton/Wilkes-Barre sent eight batters to the plate, scoring three runs on three hits. The big blow in the frame was a two-out, two-run single from Scott Sizemore to go ahead 4-0.
After Antoan Richardson’s run-scoring single in the third to take a 5-0 lead, Ramon Flores and Scott Sizemore laced back-to-back triples in the bottom of the fourth to put the RailRiders in front 6-1.
The offense looked good, going 7 for 17 with runners in scoring position and eight of the nine players in the lineup had a hit - led by the first three going 9 for 14 with four RBI and four runs scored.