Scranton/Wilkes-Barre made it three in a row over the Buffalo Bisons with an offensive powerhouse eighth inning to take a 5-1 decision at Coca-Cola Field Saturday afternoon.
With the game knotted, 1-1, the RailRiders scored four runs in the inning. It started when Cesar Puello reached on a fielder's choice, beating out a double play throw from second baseman Andy Burns. Puello stole second and took third when catcher Wilkin Castillo's throw went into center field. He then easily scored on a single from Ben Gamel to give the RailRiders a 2-1 lead.
With two and two out a single from Donovan Solano and a throwing error from shortstop Jio Mier allowed two more runs to score, giving Scranton a 4-1 cushion. A single from Gary Sanchez added another run giving Scranton plenty of insurance.
Quality start thwarted: Chris Leroux was pitching a gem of a game for the Herd. The starter at one point retired 13 in a row and and two outs in the eighth inning. But then he issued a walk and a single and a pair of errors helped the game get away from him. He finished giving up four runs on six hits with one walk and seven strikeouts. He threw 112 pitches (69 for strikes) in 7 2/3 innings of work. That's the most pitches by a Bison this season.
Leroux on his outing: "I felt good. I just made one bad pitch there at the end," Leroux said of the RBI single he gave up to Gamel. "I threw four sliders outside and should have come in with the fastball but hindsight is 20-20, right?"
Pitch count: The Herd needed Leroux to go deep after losing two pitchers -- Sunday's scheduled starter Drew Hutchison and reliever Aaron Loup -- to recalls by the Toronto Blue Jays. "He was going as far as he could go," Bisons manager Gary Allenson said. "We’re kinda strapped right now. We’re going bullpen by committee tomorrow. I almost kissed him out there, going as far as he did. Just trying to get him through eight innings there and just came up a pitch too short. … He did a great job. One pitch away. One pitch away but we’ve still got to score a run.”
Sunday's starter: Hutchison was the scheduled starter before the call-up to Toronto on Saturday. Allenson said split-handed pitcher Pat Venditte would get the spot start and likely pitch three innings. "We'll ad lib from there," he said.
Offense woes: The Herd has scored just one run in each of the last three games against Scranton. Allenson on the offense: "Obviously the harder you throw, the quicker you've got to make up your mind if you're going to swing or not. ... but you've got to tip your hat to them. They're pitching well."
Stranded at third: Twice the Herd stranded runners at third. In the fifth, Darrell Ceciliani had a two-out triple, but Andy Burns struck out to end the inning. In the sixth, Jesus Montero had a two-out double and moved to third on a ground out to second by Domonic Brown but Melky Mesa struck out to end the inning.
Standings: With three straight losses to the RailRiders (51-32), the Bisons (48-36) have fallen five games behind the IL North Division leader.
Roster moves: After the Blue Jays went 19-innings on Friday, they recalled righthanded pitcher Drew Hutchison and lefty Aaron Loup. Righty Bo Schultz was optioned to the Herd while righthanded pitcher Bobby Korecky and catcher Luis Hurtado were both activated off the disabled list.
Counting the house: There were 7,173 on hand for the Saturday matinee at Coca-Cola Field.
Up next: It's the annual Independence Eve Celebration at Coca-Cola Field with Bisons and RailRiders concluding their four-game series. First pitch is at 6:05 p.m. but gates open at 4:30 p.m. Fans with tickets at will call are encouraged to come early to pick up their tickets (the box office opens at 10 a.m.) and all are advised to account for extra time getting into the ballpark.