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Bisons' win is worth the wait; Pascucci's homer the difference

The fans really had to wait for their fireworks on Friday night at Coca-Cola Field.

A day after ensuring themselves a losing season, the Buffalo Bisons responded with a 4-2, 11-inning victory over the Toledo Mud Hens after a two-run Valentino Pascucci walk-off home run in front of 16,447.

"The bullpen did a nice job holding many, many innings just to one run," manager Tim Teufel said. "Then Scucc [Pascucci] delivers the big blow, opposite field, a two-run homer game-winner walk-off followed by fireworks at the stadium. You couldn't ask for a better ending."

The game was the last in a 10-game homestand. The Herd went 6-4 and finished it in style in front of the second largest home crowd this season.

The win also gave the Bisons their first win of the season when they trailed after the eighth inning. Buffalo was 0-57 before Friday's contest.

Pascucci's blast puts him back in a tie for the International League lead in runs batted in (85). He said that he used his previous at bat against the pitcher, Enrique Gonzalez, in the ninth inning to help with his game-winning strike.

"It just happened," Pascucci said about the homer. "You look for that pitch up in the zone. I was trying to drive it, because I knew I had a guy on, trying to hit a gap really. It's just one of those things. He left it up and it was right in the wheelhouse and I didn't miss that one."

Starting for the Herd on the mound was All-Star Chris Schwinden. The right-hander pitched 5 2/3 shutout innings, striking out six and giving up four hits. Schwinden now has 119 strikeouts on the year.

When Schwinden left, the Bisons had a 1-0 lead courtesy of a missile of a solo home run from designated hitter Zach Lutz.

With no runners on and two out in the sixth, Teufel decided to pull his starter and put in Justin Hampson.

"We are just being a little bit more protective of him this late in the season," Teufel said. "It's a time of the year where he hasn't thrown this many innings. We are going to keep it at a moderate pace with him from here on out."

Hampson was able to finish the sixth and then get two outs in the seventh, when Teufel made another pitching change. Relief pitcher John Lujan was able to get out of the seventh, but in the eighth he gave up two runs.

Michael O'Connor replaced Lujan and finished the inning with a strikeout.

In the bottom of the ninth with the Mud Hens still leading, 2-1, the Bisons threatened after Lutz and Pascucci hit two straight singles. Outfielder Jesus Feliciano drove Lutz home to tie the game and force the extra innings.

"It was a tough battle," Teufel said of the at bat. "He really took a pitch that was close. It was just good hitting, it's great competition out there."

The crowd was the second largest to witness a home game this year in Buffalo. The season's highest attended game this year was on July 3 when the Bisons lost to Syracuse, 10-4. That night featured the largest fireworks show of the year and a Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra performance.

The Bisons will go on the road for a three-game series with the IL West-leading Columbus Clippers (80-47). First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. (Radio 1520 AM) with Mark Cohoon (3-8, 6.17) starting for the Bisons against Joe Martinez (8-6, 4.01).

email: rmarfurt@buffnews.com