MOOSIC - Like a lot of teammates past and present, David Adams has seen such spectacular consistency from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders starting pitcher Vidal Nuno before.
What a lot of people didn’t notice, however, was the self-described struggles Nuno was going through Sunday.
“I was battling, falling behind counts,” Nuno said.
He didn’t fall too far.
Nuno gave Syracuse practically nothing for 5 2/3 innings, then Adams fueled a three-run rally that cracked open a tight game in the eighth inning of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s 5-1 victory at PNC Field.
“It’s just the mindset,” said Nuno, who improved to 2-0 for the RailRiders this season. “It’s going out there and competing.”
In the heat of the battle, Nuno was as fierce as ever.
He limited Syracuse to three hits and one run before being removed in the sixth inning after throwing 91 pitches in a game that raised his ERA by one-hundreth of a point - to 1.54.
“I played with him last year,” Adams said. “I think he’s lights-out. He was last year. It’s fun, knowing you’ve got a chance to win at the end of the day.”
At the end of it all, Adams keyed a three-run rally with a big double in the bottom of the eighth.
“I’m just trying to put the barrel on the ball,” Adams said. “Where it goes after that …”
Where it went was just over the out-stretched glove of left fielder Jeff Kobernus a double that brought home Austin Romine, sparking a rally that gave the RailRider breathing room. Thomas Neal followed with a single that brought Adams home and Neal eventually scored on Addison Maruszak’s ground out.
But before that point, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s strong pitching paved the path to a victory that brought the RailRiders to the brink of the .500 mark on the season at 7-8.
Nuno picked off Chris Rahl to finish the third inning and recorded all six of his strikeouts while breezing through the first five innings scoreless.
Meanwhile, Corban Joseph doubled home Maruszak in the bottom of the fifth for the game’s first run, then scored on Zoilo Almonte’s sacrifice fly to give the RailRiders a 2-0 lead.
Then Nuno ran into a little danger.
A walk and an error put two Syracuse runners on with one out, and Kobernus slammed a hard RBI single to left field to cut the RailRiders lead in half.
But Sam Demel came on to cut down the Chiefs comeback hopes.
The RailRiders right-handed reliever induced a foul pop with two on and two out in the sixth inning to finish that frame, then worked two pretty clean innings to get Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to the bottom of the eighth inning clinging to a 2-1 lead.
“The 2 1/3 innings he pitched were big innings for us,” RailRiders manager Dave Miley said. “Nuno threw well, but Demel got some big outs for us.”
Demel allowed just one baserunner during his time on the mound - when Zach Walters lined a one-out single to right field. But Demel recorded Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s second pickoff of the game, as Walters was tagged out after a long run-down.
Then Cody Eppley nailed down the RailRiders victory, getting a double-play grounder in the ninth inning and wrapping things up with a game-ending strikeout.
“It was a team effort,” Nuno said.