The Buffalo Bisons broke out of an offensive slump and got some timely defensive plays to score a 5-3 victory over the Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders Monday evening.
Buffalo scored two runs in the eighth inning to break 3-3 tie. The Bisons had scored two or fewer runs in each of their previous four games.
Good defense in the last two innings saved the win. With two men on and two out in the top of the eighth, Bisons centerfielder Junior Lake got a great jump on a ball hit deep to center and made an over-the-shoulder catch to end the inning. In the ninth, Lake threw out a runner at second for a force out. Then third baseman David Adams made the final out with a running over-the-shoulder catch of a foul ball near the stands down the left-field line.
“We played great defense tonight,” said Bisons manager Gary Allenson. “Lake had a couple real nice plays in center. He got a great jump on the ball with two on and two out. Then the blooper that fell in there, to pick it up and throw off the front foot and force the guy at second base.”
Records: Buffalo improved to 11-13. Scranton-Wilkes Barre is 12-13.
Early lead: The Bisons took a 2-0 lead in the second. Lake led off with a walk and scored on a triple to the right-center gap by A.J. Jiminez. Adams followed with a double to the left-field corner to score Jiminez. Andy Burns scored in the third after hitting a lead-off double. He scored on an error by second baseman Pete Kozma.
Starters: Bisons starter Wade LeBlanc, the 31-year-old off to a strong start to the season, lasted five and a third innings and allowed three runs. He struck out seven, walked just one and showed good command. But he gave up a two-run homer to Eddy Rodriguez in the sixth that tied the game, 3-3. . . . RailRiders starter Luis Cessa gave up three runs (two earned) in five innings.
Tough call: Bisons reliever Dustin Antolin was in a tight spot in the top of the eighth with the go-ahead run on second and a 3-2 count to Refsnyder. Umpire Chris Segal called a pitching-clock violation and gave Refsnyder a base on balls. Bisons pitching coach Bob Stanley was thrown out of the game for arguing the call from the dugout. Pat Venditte came on to get the third out to end the threat.
“You know what? For me there’s a right time and a place for that,” Allenson said. “Not in the eighth inning in a tie game. . . . But that’s an opinion. I handled it a lot better than my pitching coach did.”
Decisions: Bisons reliever Pat Venditte (1-0) got the win, pitching the final 1 1-3 innings. Dan Camarena (0-1) took the loss.
Counting the house: Paid attendance was 4,298 at Coca-Cola Field. Several hundred were in the stands on a chilly evening.
Up next: The Bisons play host to the RailRiders at 6:05 p.m. Tuesday and 1:05 p.m. Wednesday. Then Syracuse comes to Buffalo for a four-day homestand. The Herd played seven home games and 16 road games in April.