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Bisons win a marathon Feliciano delivers in 11th inning

Saturday night's Buffalo Bisons game lasted nearly four hours and it seemed like Jesus Feliciano spent half that time fouling off pitches before finally tapping the one that counted.

Feliciano's RBI single in the 11th inning gave the Bisons a 6-5 triumph over the Norfolk Tides at Coca-Cola Field. The game ended just after 11 Saturday night and for the last several minutes Tides reliever Troy Patton was throwing sliders away from Feliciano, who kept fouling them off.

Feliciano finally locked in on one he liked and drilled it up the middle to score Luis Figueroa and put an end to the 3:52 marathon.

"Feliciano hasn't had that big, big hit in a while and he got one so it was a great way to end the game," Bisons manager Tim Teufel said. "He's been a really good player his whole career hitting-wise but this is the first time he hasn't felt great at the plate. That was one of his better at-bats that I've seen him give us in his last couple of outings."

A contact hitter, Feliciano batted .339 in 89 games with the Herd a year ago, but has watched his average dip to .279.

"I've been struggling all year but I've been working hard and I think mentally I'm a little lost," Feliciano said. "But I've been doing good with men in scoring position."

Yes, Feliciano is hitting .333 with runners in scoring position and 15 RBIs coming into Saturday's game. Make that 16.

Figueroa doubled to start the 11th and Nick Evans was intentionally walked, but Fernando Martinez grounded into a double play, leaving Figueroa on third. The Tides wisely walked power hitter Valentino Pascucci to face Feliciano.

"It's big to come through with that at-bat and do it for the team," Feliciano said. "It's great. We've been battling all year and hopefully this game can help us continue to play like we've been playing the last few games."

The Bisons threatened with two outs in the 10th when Bubba Bell's line drive double to right field pushed Luis Hernandez to third but Raul Chavez grounded to short to end the inning. The Tides had runners on second and third with one out in the 11th but Brian Sweeney (3-3) dropped in a curve ball on Matt Angle for a strikeout, then Ryan Adams waved at a breaking ball in the dirt for the third out.

Norfolk tied the game at 5 in the eighth when John Hester singled on a sharp ground ball to left to score Bell.

The Bisons took the lead in the seventh inning when Fernando Martinez's three-run blast banked off the right-field pole as if it had been tapped from a pool cue. Figueroa started the inning with a single and Evans doubled before Martinez sent them home with his sixth homer of the season.

The top half of the sixth inning seemed to last longer than a 30-minute sitcom, but it wasn't funny for the Bisons.

Bisons starter Dylan Owen gave up a double to Jake Fox to start the sixth and was lifted for left-hander Justin Hampton after forcing Josh Bell to ground out to second. Rhyne Hughes hit a blooper to shallow left just out of the reach of shortstop Figueroa, who was playing in, to score Fox. John Lujan replaced Hampton and Lujan and threw a wild pitch that moved Hughes to third and walked Brendan Harris. Lujan blew a fastball by Tyler Henson for a strikeout but John Hester's RBI single gave the Tides a 3-2 lead.

But it would take another five innings for Bisons to finally settle matters.

e-mail: rmckissic@buffnews.com