PAWTUCKET, R.I. – Minor league baseball’s new extra-inning tie-breaker rule helped the Buffalo Bisons win their season opener, 4-3, in 12 innings Monday night before an announced crowd of 1,476 in 47-degree weather at McCoy Stadium.
Tim Lopes singled home Jason Leblebijian with the winning run after Leblebijian was placed at second base to start the inning under the new rule and advanced to third on a sacrifice by Roemon Fields.
The game was the first in the International League to be affected by the rule change which puts a runner on second base to start each team’s at-bat in extra innings.
The Herd failed to score the first two innings despite getting the free baserunner and the Red Sox failed three times, including the 12th when they got the lead runner as far as third. After a single by Mike Miller, Jantzen Witte was tagged out in a rundown when Aneury Tavarez grounded to Jon Berti at third. Sam Moll, the sixth Bisons pitcher then got Ivan DeJesus Jr. to fly out for the final out.
Bisons starter Joe Biagini pitched two-hit ball for five innings before he departed after throwing 80 pitchers.
Two of the Bisons runs came on solo home runs. Dwight Smith Jr. hit one in the fifth innng to snap a 1-1 tie. Danny Jansen tagged one in the sixth to make it 3-1, but the PawSox tallied single runs in the sixth and seventh to tie it.
Jansen went 4 for 4 with two doubles, and a single in addition to his home run.
Despite the two home runs and their 11 hits, the Bisons spent a mostly-futile game at bat. Buffalo batters struck out 20 times, tying the modern era record set in 2001 against Columbus. Bisons struck out for all three outs in the second, fourth, sixth and ninth innings. Reese McGuire and Leblebijian struck out four times each.
Eleven Pawtucket batters struck out.
Buffalo left nine runners on base. Pawtucket left 12.
It was the third game for Pawtucket which split a pair of weekend home games against Lehigh Valley after the Sox opener was snowed out last Friday.
Left-hander Ryan Borucki is the scheduled starter for the Bisons in the second game of the series tonight (Radio, 1520, 6:15 p.m.). Righty Williams Cuevas is down to start for Pawtucket.
Deck McGuire of the Herd is slated to face Chandler Shepherd of the Sox in the series finale Wednesday. Then the Bisons come back to Coca-Cola Field to face Indianapolis in their home opener at 2:05 p.m. Thursday.