MOOSIC – Russ Canzler is normally known for his bat.
While that was true on Monday for the RailRiders as they opened an eight-game homestand at PNC Field, the Hazleton native was also big in the field.
Canzler, who reached base four times, made two spectacular defensive plays in helping Scranton/Wilkes-Barre top International League West-leading Indianapolis, 7-6.
In the eighth inning with a runner on second, Nevin Ashley scorched a liner to first base that Canzler leaped for and made the catch to save a run.
“It’s just a reaction play. He hit is so hard I feel like it was already getting over my head when I got my hand up there,” Canzler said. “I thought I had a hole in my glove when I looked. He smoked it, right in the webbing. I looked and no holes, so it was good.”
Then in the ninth inning, the the RailRiders clinging to a one-run lead, Brent Morel singled to right. While Gregory Polanco stopped at third, Morel was expecting the throw from SWB right fielder Adonis Garcia to go home. So Morel was caught in between first and second when Canzler cut off the throw, tossed to Jose Pirela, who was covering first to nab Morel at first for the second out of the inning.
“I think it would’ve been a tough play for them to score on and then it’s just communication between me and Romie (catcher Austin Romine),” Canzler added. “He hollared out ‘cut’ as the ball was getting to me and that’s my job as a first baseman to wait and listen for him as best I can to hear his voice. And Petie (Pirela) did a good job of sneaking in the back door there.”
Matt Daley, who has three blown saves already this season, escaped the tense ninth inning for his third save of the season getting Chris McGuiness to fly out to end the game.
The RailRiders got the first runs of the game scoring two in the bottom of the second on a two-run triple by Pirela, who added a run-scoring single in the fourth before Romine hit his first home run of the season.
Romine, who had struggled most of the season, started to get going Sunday with a hit, and his longball Monday put the RailRiders ahead 5-1 after four innings. He now has three hits in his last two games to get his average up to .154.
“That’s a start for him,” RailRiders manager Dave Miley said about Romine. “He’s working through it.”
Indianapolis trimmed the RailRiders lead by one in the top of the fifth when former SWB Yankee Chris Dickerson smacked a double to score a run and pull the Indians witin 5-2.
Canzler (3 for 3) doubled in a run in the bottom of the fifth to get that run back for the RailRiders and extend the lead to 6-2. The Tribe came right back picking up three runs in the top of the sixth highlighted by a two-run homer from Jaff Decker — who had his own cheering section at the ballpark on Monday night — to cut the deficit to 6-5.
RailRiders starter Shane Greene had a good outing despite lasting just 3 2/3 due to a pitch count. The right-hander only gave up one unearned run and three hits, while fanning four and walking just one. His fastball was dialed up to as high as 95, while and his slider hit as high as 90. He complimented those pitches by dropping a curveball on hitters and locking them up early on. Of the 67 pitches he threw, 43 of them were for strikes.
“He’s getting stretched out,” Miley said. “He’s got Big League stuff.”
The RailRiders did the bulk of their damage against Indianapolis lefty Adam Wilk despite entering the game having trouble against southpaws. They began Monday hitting just .236 against left-handed pitchers and were 3-4 in games started by lefties. On Monday night, they hit .440 (11 for 25) against Wilk. …Polanco, the Pirates top prospect went 4 for 5 to lead Indianapolis and up his league-leading batting average to .397.
Today’s Probables: RailRiders’ RHP Chase Whitley (2-2, 3.38) vs. Indianapolis TBA, 6:35 p.m. at PNC Field
On Deck: The four-game series with the Indians continues through Thursday with a school-day game on Wednesday followed by a 6:35 p.m. contest Thursday.
Today at PNC Field: Tonight is Tee-Shirt Tuesday with the first 1,500 fans entering the ballpark receiving the shirt.
On The Radio: All games can be heard on NEPA Sports Radio WYCK 1340-AM, 1400-AM, 100.7-FM
HOW THEY SCORED
RAILRIDERS SECOND: Zelous Wheeler grounded out. Russ Canzler singled then moved to third on a double by Ronnier Mustelier. Jose Pirela tripled to score Canzler and Mustelier. Austin Romine grounded out. Antoan Richardson struck out. RAILRIDERS 2-0
INDIANAPOLIS FOURTH: Gregory Polanco singled. Brent Morel struck out. Polanco to third on an errant pick off thrown. Chris McGuiness grounded out; Polanco scored. Matt Hague walked. Yoshinori Tateyama relieved Shane Greene. Nevin Ashley flied out. RAILRIDERS 2-1
RAILRIDERS FOURTH: Russ Canzler walked. Ronnier Mustelier singled. Jose Pirela singled to score Canzler, Mustelier out going to third, Pirela to second on the throw. Austin Romine hit a two-run home run. Antoan Richardson flied out. Scott Sizemore grounded out. RAILRIDERS 5-1
INDIANAPOLIS FIFTH: Jaff Decker singled. Michael Martinez struck out. Chris Dickerson doubled to score Decker. Robert Andino struck out. Gregory Polanco flied out. RAILRIDERS 5-2
RAILRIDERS FIFTH: Zoilo Almonte grounded out. Adonis Garcia flied out. Zelous Wheeler singled then scored on a double by Russ Canzler. Ronnier Mustelier grounded out. RAILRIDERS 6-2
INDIANAPOLIS SIXTH: Brent Morel doubled. Chris McGuiness flied out. Matt Hague struck out. Nevin Ashley doubled to score Morel. Jaff Decker hit a two-run home run. Michael Martinez flied out. RAILRIDERS 6-5
RAILRIDERS SIXTH: Jose Pirela grounded out. Austin Romine singled and moved to second on a groundout by Antoan Richardson. Scott Sizemore singled to score Romine. Zoilo Almonte singled. Adonis Garcia grounded into a fielder’s choice. RAILRIDERS 7-5
INDIANAPOLIS NINTH: Chris Dickerson doubled. Robert Andino struck out. Gregory Polanco doubled to score Dickerson. Brent Morel singled, Polanco to third. Morel out caught in between first and second. Chris McGuiness flied out. RAILRIDERS 7-6
RailRiders 7, Indianapolis 6
Wilk (L, 3-2)`5.2`11`7`7`2`2
Miller (W, 2-1)`2`2`0`0`1`2
Daley (S, 3)`1`3`1`1`0`1