The Buffalo Bisons have ranked near the bottom of the International League in home runs most of the season.
Wednesday afternoon, though, the Bisons won a long-ball contest from the Charlotte Knights, including two by rookie shortstop Bo Bichette, in a 9-6 triumph at Sahlen Field.
The Bisons hit four out of the park and the Knights, who lead the league in four-baggers, hit just one in a game that started 27 minutes late after the morning rain.
Six of the Bisons runs, including the go-ahead tally in the sixth, came on home runs as the Herd (51-45) drew within four games of first-place Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (55-41) in the North Division of the IL and pulled even with Charlotte in the wild-card standings.
Andy Burns hit a two-run shot off Charlotte lefty Justin Nicolino to put Buffalo in front for good, 7-6, in the bottom of the sixth inning. Bichette added his second of the game and seventh of the season with Roemon Fields on base for two insurance runs in the seventh against reliever Colton Turner.
Patrick Kivlehan also homered for the Herd. His team-leading 14th of the season leading off the sixth made it 6-5. After a single by Richard Urena, Burns drove his go-ahead blast into the screen in center field. Counting four he hit for the Indianapolis Indians, Kivlehan has 18 homers this season.
Bichette hit a solo homer in the fifth to tie the game at 4-4 before the Knights struck for two runs in the sixth to retake the lead in the back-and-forth affair.
Buffalo has 101 homers on the season, well behind Charlotte’s league leading 145. Yermin Mercedes of the Knights hit a two-run homer in the fifth against Bisons starter T.J. Zeuch to give his team the lead, 4-3.
Once Buffalo got the late lead, the bullpen protected it for the second game in a row. Kirby Snead, Zach Jackson and Jason Adam shut out the Knights over the last three frames, although Jackson got into trouble in the eighth when he walked the bases full. In all, Bisons pitchers gave up 12 bases on balls. Tuesday night, the bullpen closed the 5-3 victory with three shutout innings.
There were two important changes in the Charlotte lineup on Wednesday. Shortstop Ryan Goins, whose 10th inning homer beat the Bisons in the series opener on Monday, was promoted to the Chicago White Sox after Tuesday night’s game. Also, rookie center fielder Luis Robert, who scored two and drove in two of Charlotte’s three runs in the the 5-3 loss on Tuesday, was out of the lineup.
Sean Reid-Foley (3-3, 6.04) is scheduled to get the start for the Bisons in the series finale Thursday night (Radio 1520, 7:05 p.m.) against Odrisamer Despaigne (3-4, 3.52). It will be Italian Festival Night at the ballpark.
The Bisons will begin a three-game series with Columbus, the first-place team in the IL West, on Friday night.