The RailRiders bullpen imploded while failing to protect a two-run lead, as Columbus scored three times in the eighth inning to pull off the victory. Jeremy Hermida blasted a game-tying two-run homer and Matt Carson scored the winning run on a bases-loaded fielder’s choice. Cody Johnson launched a monstrous home run for the RailRiders first run - estimated to be a 450-some foot shot - for the longest blast at the recently-revamped park.
RailRiders at the plate: Addison Maruszak had two hits, including an RBI single, after entering the game for ailing outfielder Thomas Neal following the first inning. Johnson unloaded his first home run of the young season. David Adams delivered a bases-loaded, two-run single to put the RailRiders ahead in the seventh inning. And Corban Joseph and Bobby Wilson both doubled and scored runs. It was a four-walk day for Dan Johnson before he flew out to end the game in his only official at-bat.
RailRiders on the mound: Ryan Pope came out of the bullpen to make an emergency start because of Friday’s rainout, and allowed two runs while keeping the game manageable through his 3 1/3 innings. Relievers Mark Montgomery and Josh Spence were solid through the sixth inning, but it was a rough outing for Cody Eppley, who pitched out of deep trouble in the seventh before surrendering the game-winning, three-run rally in the eighth. Sam Demel allowed an inherited runner to score the winning run.
Play of the game: Third baseman David Adams made two of them. His first was a spectacular backhanded stab of a bullet down the third base line, but he needed nifty glovework on the short-hopped throw from first baseman Dan Johnson to retire Matt Lawson. That stranded Columbus runners on second and third to end the seventh inning, keeping the game tied at 2-all. In the eighth, Adams made a great diving grab of Cedric Hunter’s bunt attempt.
Time of Game: 3:35
Today’s Game: The RailRiders try to get back on the winning track against Columbus at 6:35 p.m. today at PNC Field.
Today’s Probables: Former big leaguer Chien-Ming Wang, a righthander who’s 1-0 for the RailRiders and didn’t allow a run in his first start, opposes Columbus RHP Carlos Carrasco, who’s making his first appearance of the season.
Riding the Rails: After drilling a one-out double in the bottom of the first inning, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre outfielder Neal didn’t come out for the second inning. He said the move was precationary, since he felt a little something grab in his hamstring during the early-morning game. Also, the battle turned into a marathon partly because the team’s combined to allow 14 walks, with RailRiders pitching surrendering six of them.
On Deck: The set with Columbus, as well as the homestand, comes to a close Friday, when the RailRiders send Brett Marshall to the mound looking for his first win.
On the Radio: All games can be heard on WYCK 1340-AM, 1400-AM and 100.7 FM.
HOW THEY SCORED
COLUMBUS SECOND: Matt Carson started the inning with a single off the glove of third baseman David Adams, the first of three straight hits off Ryan Pope. Cedric Hunter followed with a sharp single to right field, sending Carson to third base. Mike McDade then cued an opposite field single to left, bringing home Carson. COLUMBUS 1-0.
COLUMBUS THIRD: Tim Fedroff led off with a homer onto the grassy birm in right field. COLUMBUS 2-0.
RAILRIDERS FOURTH: Cody Johnson did Fedroff one batter, launching a towering two-out solo homer over the grass and onto the walkway before it one-hopped against the rocks in right field for the longest home run at revamped PNC Field. COLUMBUS 2-1.
RAILRIDERS FIFTH: Bobby Wilson doubled to center field, then scampered to third base when Columbus right fielder Jeremy Hermida caught a pop by Gil Velazquez on the run in foul territory. One out later, Addison Maruszak looped a single in front of a diving Hermida to score Wilson. RAILRIDERS 2, COLUMBUS 2.
RAILRIDERS SEVENTH: Corban Joseph, Zoilo Almonte and Dan Johnson all drew walks to fill the bases with two outs. David Adams delivered Joseph and Almonte by lining a two-run single to center field. RAILRIDERS 4-2.
COLUMBUS EIGHTH: Ryan Ruhlinger singled to left field, then Hermida followed with a long home run to right field, tying the game. Carson reached base on a slow-rolling single to third base, and McDade and Juan Diaz both drew one-out walks to fill the bases. Carson scored when pinch hitter Cord Phelps reached on a fielder’s choice. COLUMBUS 5-4.