The Buffalo Bisons come into their biggest series of the season Thursday night with plenty of momentum and good vibes on their side.
The Herd will open a four-game home series against the first-place Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders after extending their win streak to nine games with a 4-3 comeback victory over the Louisville Bats on Wednesday night and a sweep of the three-game series at Louisville Slugger Field.
What’s more, the Bisons learned Wednesday that four of their players have been named to the International League All-Stars for the Triple-A All-Star game in Charlotte, N.C. on July 13.
For the first time in the modern era three Bisons pitchers – Dustin Antolin, Drew Hutchison and Ben Rowen – have been named to the IL team that will face the Pacific Coast League in the annual game. Antolin was elected to start as was Bisons designated hitter Jesus Montero, who is second in the league in hits (91) and tied for second in RBIs with 47.
Chase is on: The Bisons have been chasing the RailRiders for a month to little avail. Despite enjoying their best June (19-9) in 12 seasons, the Herd has gained just one game on the RailRiders (18-10) since June 1. Buffalo has won 35 of 52 since May 6, a torrid .673 pace, and has moved into a tie for second place with Rochester in the North Division of the I.L.
Big time slugger: The New York Yankees affiliate comes to town having won 17 of the last 22 games and boasting a slugger in 6-foot-7, 275-pound Aaron Judge, who has fans of the Bronx Bombers anticipating great things. Judge has hit seven home runs in his last 11 games and has 16 on the season. He drove in two more runs in Wednesday night’s 11-2 victory at Syracuse giving him 47 for the season. Also, he has struck out 78 times in 290 at-bats.
Won’t be beat: The Bisons came back twice in the last innings to pull out Wednesday’s game. Steve Selsky hit a two-run homer off Bisons starter Scott Diamond in the first inning and the 2-0 lead stood up until the eighth inning. The Bisons tied it on Casey Kotchman’s two-out double. Louisville went back in front in the bottom of the eighth on a solo homer by Jermaine Curtis but the Bisons weren’t to be denied.
Cecilliani ties it: Darrell Cecilliani picked a great time for his first homer as a Bison, leading off the ninth with drive to right. Melky Mesa, who is batting .387, singled to drive home the winning run. That followed a single by Matt Dominguez and a double by Montero.
Closing the Loup: Colt Hynes (2-0) picked up the win with an inning of relief despite giving up the Curtis homer. Aaron Loup got the save, pitching around a double by Kyle Waldrop in the bottom of the ninth. Right fielder Cecilliani made a sterling catch of a foul ball for the final out.
Next up: Right-hander Roberto Hernandez (4-3, 4.07) will get the start for the Bisons Thursday night against veteran left-hander Phil Coke (3-2, 1.39). The Bisons probably won’t see prize Yankees prospect Luis Severino in this series.