MOOSIC — Talk about finishing with a flourish.
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders ended their inaugural home season at revamped PNC Field with a bang. Then another. Then another.
J.R. Murphy, Ronnier Mustelier and Neil Medchill all blasted first-inning home runs Thursday as the RailRiders took a 4-2 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning against the rival Lehigh Valley IronPigs — much to the delight of a crowd of 8,736 that came out strong on Fan Appreciation Night and pushed the season attendance total to 435,839.
To get their money’s worth, RailRiders fans had to sit tight for a bit. The game was delayed 1 hour, 18 minutes before the start when a hard rain dampened the festivities.
The RailRiders made it worth the wait.
With one out, Murphy lined a shot over the left field wall for his sixth homer of the season and second in as many nights. Mustelier followed with a booming blast well beyond the fence in left for back-to-back homers and a 2-0 RailRiders lead.
Brent Lillibridge then beat out an infield hit, and one out later, Medchill drove his first homer of the season just over the yellow line on the right field wall — a two-run shot that gave the RailRiders a 4-0 lead.
That was it for the fireworks display.
Following Medchill’s homer, the RailRiders didn’t manage another hit through the seventh inning. And the scheduled fireworks show after the game was postponed because the game ran longer than Moosic’s 11 p.m. curfew to begin fireworks shows.
That didn’t stop Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s pitching from stealing the show from there, though.
Starter Chris Bootcheck pitched one-hit ball through four scoreless innings before tiring a bit. He allowed single runs in the fifth and sixth innings — on RBI singles by Steven Lerud and Josh Fields — and departed with two outs in the sixth inning holding a 4-2 lead.
RailRiders reliever Sam Demel took over from there, getting seven outs in seven batters — including three strikeouts and a double-play grounder to end the seventh. That got the RailRiders through the eighth inning with the lead.
That gave the RailRiders a shot to pull even in their season series with Lehigh Valley after 14 games. The two rivals will play their final two games against each other in Lehigh Valley’s Coca-Cola Park starting tonight with a prize on the line.
The winner of the season series will be awarded the first IronRail Trophy, which will be an annual award to the winner of the series between the two each season. If the series finishes in a tie, the winner of the final game between the two gets to take home the trophy.