The leading home run hitter in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders lineup didn’t need much more than a measly single to secure victory. But when Dan Johnson couldn’t manage that, instead taking a called third strike to end the ninth inning, the RailRiders headed for extra innings tied with Syracuse at 6 on Friday night. Johnson’s strikeout left teammate J.R. Murphy stranded at third base, just 90 feet away from ending it in regulation.
The game Friday night was suspended due to rain as the 12th inning was to begin. It will be made up at a later date.
RailRiders at the plate: With his fourth-inning triple, Brent Lillibridge extended his hitting streak to 13 games, a season-high for the RailRiders and the longest active spree in the International League. Fernando Martinez delivered the team’s first run with a single, then tied the game by slicing an opposite-field homer into the left field bullpen in the seventh inning. Corey Patterson had two hits in his first two trips to the plate, then rocketed a two-run double to fuel a four-run sixth inning that got the RailRiders within a run. J.R. Murphy and Thomas Neal both singled twice.
RailRiders on the mound: Starter David Huff found the going rough, surrendering six runs and 11 hits over 5 1/3 innings. Jim Miller followed him with a fine job, stranding two runners in scoring position in the sixth inning and striking out two in 2 2/3 scoreless innings. Mike Zagurski worked a perfect ninth, striking out the final two in the inning.
Big blow: Patterson had three hits on the night, but none bigger than his two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the sixth inning. The shot carried over the head of right fielder Chris Rahl, brought home Randy Ruiz and David Adams and gave the RailRiders life while pulling them within 6-4.
Defensive play: Testing the arm of Syracuse outfielder Tyler Moore while trailing by four runs turned out to be a bad idea. But the RailRiders tried it in the fifth inning, when David Adams tried to score from second base on Thomas Neal’s sharp single to left field. Moore gloved the grounder and came up gunning, with a near-perfect one-hop throw to the plate that easily nailed Adams.
Riding the Rails: Pitcher Graham Stoneburner was activated from the disabled list and sent to Double-A Trenton. In 12 games and 10 starts with the RailRiders, Stoneburner is 3-4 with a 4.84 ERA. Stoneburner has also made four appearances for Trenton between April and June.
Today’s Game: The RailRiders travel to Buffalo for the weekend and open a three-game series with a doubleheader beginning at 6:05 p.m. today.
Today’s Probables: RailRiders righthander Chris Bootcheck (8-2, 3.59 ERA) will work the first game against Buffalo’s righthander Dave Bush (8-6, 3.99 ERA). The RailRiders haven’t yet decided on a pitcher to face Buffalo righthander Claudio Vargas (5-6, 5.51 ERA) in the second game.
On Deck: The RailRiders conclude their series in Buffalo at 1:05 p.m. Sunday. Their next home game will be July 23 at PNC Field.
On The Radio: All games can be heard on WYCK 1340-AM, 1400-AM and 100.7-FM.
How They Scored
SYRACUSE SECOND: Corey Brown drew a one-out walk, stole second and continued to third base when the throw sailed into center field. Josh Johnson tagged a two-out triple off the glove of an outstretched Fernando Martinez in right field, bringing Brown home. Jhonatan Salano then rocketed a double against the center field wall, scoring Johnson. SYRACUSE 2-0.
RAILRIDERS FOURTH: Brent Lillibridge smoked a triple into the right-center field gap, then scored when Martinez sneaked a shot past first baseman Chris Marrero for a single. SYRACUSE 2-1.
SYRACUSE FIFTH: Tyler Moore and Marrero drilled back-to-back doubles to open the inning with a run. Jeff Kobernus drew a one-out walk and Johnson followed with a single to center field, sending Marrero home and Kobernus to third base. Kobernus jogged home on Solano’s long sacrifice fly to center field. SYRACUSE 5-1.
SYRACUSE SIXTH: Chris Rahl beat out a high chopper to third base for an infield single, then stole second base. One out later, Moore roped a single to center field as Rahl raced home. SYRACUSE 6-1.
RAILRIDERS SIXTH: J.R. Murphy grounded a single to left field. He moved to second base when Martinez grounded out and scored on a single to left field by Randy Ruiz. With two outs, David Adams drew a walk. Corey Patterson slammed a double over the head of right fielder Rahl, scoring both Ruiz and Adams. Thomas Neal followed with a run-scoring single to right field, bringing Patterson across the plate. SYRACUSE 6-5.
RAILRIDERS SEVENTH: Martinez sliced an opposite-field solo homer into the left field bullpen. RAILRIDERS 6, SYRACUSE 6.