MOOSIC – Sometimes in baseball a non-call is a blessing in disguise no matter how obvious the conclusion may look.
That was the case for RailRider catcher J.R. Murphy late in Sunday’s game against Norfolk at PNC Field. The backstop appeared to get hit by a pitch in the seventh inning that grazed his uniform on the forearm. But home plate umpire Dave Soucy did not make the call. If he did, the RailRiders would have had the bases loaded with no out.
Turns out, the play was better as a no-call. Two pitches later, after Scranton/Wilkes-Barre manager Dave Miley was ejected for arguing the call, Murphy laced a two-run single to lift the team to a 4-3 win over the Tides.
“I’m sure someone else would’ve picked me up if I got on base, but I ended up getting a good pitch to hit later in the at-bat and got the base hit,” Murphy said.
Murphy also made a tough play at the plate defensively in the top of the eighth against Hazleton native Russ Canzler, who was attempting to tie the score from second on a hit. The throw from left fielder Cody Grice beat Canzler to the plate, but he bowled over and spun around Murphy, who held onto the ball for the out. This coming two innings after Canzler jarred a ball loose from Murphy’s glove on a wide throw to score a go-ahead run, giving the Tides a 3-2 lead.
“That was a perfect throw (from Grice) and I think he just decided to go after me at the last second because he was dead out,” added Murphy. “It was a perfect throw, a perfect play.”
Murphy also called a good game for starter Brett Marshall, who took a no-decision despite equaling his season-high with eight strikeouts and only allowing three runs in six innings.
Staked to a 2-0 lead after Grice tripled in a run and Addison Maruszak singled one in in the bottom of the second, Marshall looked in control early. He was getting ahead of hitters in the first two innings and then kept them off balance with his breaking ball, inducing a groundball and only issuing one walk.
But he ran into trouble in the third with two outs when he started falling behind hitters. He walked L.J. Hoes then gave up a two-run home run to Jason Pridie on a 1-0 pitch that tied the game 2-2. After cruising through the first two innings needing just 23 pitches to get the first six outs, Marshall threw more than that in the third, having to use 24 pitches to get out the next three outs.
“It was just a bad pitch right down the middle. I think my mom could’ve hit that pitch,” Marshall said of the home run ball to Pridie. “I felt really good. Having only one walk was huge. I was throwing a lot of strikes for the most part and kept the ball down. It’s probably the best I felt all year.”
Canzler, who had a huge day Saturday piling up six hits in two games, was a big part of Norfolk’s success on Sunday, going 1-for-3 with a run scored and his first stolen base of the season. He concluded the weekend 7-for-16 with a home run, three doubles, four RBI and four runs scored. All of his damage came after going 0-for-4 in the series opener on Friday.
“It felt great. I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t nervous when I first got here with a lot of people from back home at the game, a lot of friends, a lot of family that haven’t seen me play baseball in a while,” Canzler said. “Sometimes baseball players are guilty of putting too much pressure on ourselves. But once I got that first hit under my belt, I think it was a 40-hopper up the middle, then I felt like I could relax a little bit.”
RailRiders 4, Tides 3
Hoes rf`3`1`1`0`Patterson cf`3`1`1`0
Pridie cf`5`1`2`2`Murphy c`4`0`2`2
Britton 2b`5`0`1`0`Martinez rf`2`0`0`0
Canzler 1b`3`1`1`0`Ruiz dh`4`0`0`0
Wheeler 3b`4`0`1`0`Johnson 1b`3`0`0`0
Waring dh`4`0`0`0`Lillibridge ss`3`1`1`0
Wood ss`4`0`2`1`Grice lf`4`1`1`1
Avery lf`3`0`0`0`Maruszak 2b`4`0`1`1
Exposito c`4`0`1`0`Ibarra 2b`3`1`2`0
LOB—NOR 9, SWB 9. TEAM RISP – NOR 2-for-12, SWB 3-for-10. 2B— Exposito (10), Hoes (18), Murphy (2), Lillibridge (1), Patterson (2). HR – Pridie (10). SB – Canzler (1), Lillibridge (1). SAC – Patterson. Outfield assists: Grice (Canzler at home). GIDP – NOR 0 , SWB 1.
Russell (BS, 1, L, 3-2)`2`2`2`2`3`1
Zagurski (W, 2-1)`1`1`0`0`0`3
Whitley (H,2) `1`1`0`0`0`2
IBB – Johnson (by Russell)
HBP – Canzler (by Whitley), Martinez (by Wada)
Ejections: SWB manager Dave Miley
Umpires— Home, Dave Soucy; First, Max Guyll; Third, Will Little
T— 2:54. A— 5,016 (10,000)