MOOSIC – Thursday’s inaugural game in RailRiders history didn’t go exactly as the team would’ve hoped.
But if recent history is any indication of things to come, they’ll be alright the rest of the season.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre got off to a good start, but the defending International League champion Pawtucket Red Sox proved to be too much at the end of an 8-4 win by the PawSox in 10 innings in front of 8,443 fans at PNC Field.
When the Yankees organization took over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre franchise in 2007, the SWB Yankees lost their first game as well then went on a four-year playoff run, which included two appearances in the Governor’s Cup championship and one league title.
“It’s the first game. We’ll make some adjustments. Figure out what we have from game one,” SWB manager Dave Miley said.
The Red Sox scored five times in the top of the tenth getting home runs from Jeremy Hazelbaker and Justin Henry.
But Scranton/Wilkes-Barre made the game interesting after that. The RailRiders loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning with no outs. A run came home when Gil Velazquez, who led off with a single scored on a wild pitch. At the end though, Pawtucket pitcher Anthony Carter struck out the last three batters to end the game.
“I think the closer came in you could tell just trying to find the zone a little bit after giving up two hits,” RailRiders second baseman Corban Joseph said after finishing 2-for-5. “We were in a good position to get some runs going and it seemed like he settled down and stayed within himself and pitched to what he’s capable of.”
Things got off to a great start for the RailRiders by pushing across two runs in the top of the first inning. After Joseph, the second batter of the game, got the first hit in team history, Melky Mesa drove him in three batters later for a 1-0 lead. Zoilo Almonte, who walked immediately after Joseph, scored on a wild pitch later in the inning for a 2-0 lead.
SWB had more opportunities as they sent eight batters to the plate in the frame against PawSox knuckleballer Steven Wright. The knuckler was all over the place as he walked three in the inning. But he settled down later in the inning.
“I don’t necessarily think we lost steam (after the first inning) I think the pitcher just figured out what he was doing wrong,” Joseph added. “The whole team just went in there trying to put quality at-bats together and we just didn’t get as many quality at-bats back-to-back I think.”
SWB lefty Vidal Nuno started the game retiring the first nine hitters and 11 of the first 12. He ran into trouble in the fifth, which is when Pawtucket took a 3-2 lead. He allowed a two-run shot to Brandon Snyder then got two more outs before being pulled.
The PawSox pushed another run across in the stanza on a single by Brock Holt off of Sam Demel. Overall, Nuno only allowed three hits in 4 2/3 innings striking out six and didn’t walk anyone.
“I thought Nuno pitched well. He left the ball up to Snyder and we found out a little bit about the park too,” Miley added. “I know it’s just the first night and the wind was blowing a little bit, but if you’re going to pitch up you’re going to get hurt. That’s probably at any park and the couple of balls we left up they made us pay for them.”