What started as a nightmare turned into a dream finish for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. A sunny day turned stormy by the game’s start, which was delayed 1 hour, 18 minutes by rain. Not to worry. On the final home date of the RailRiders season, 8,736 fans showed up and had a blast. The RailRiders blasted three homers in the first inning, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre general manager Rob Crain was pulled around like a rag doll during the between-inning bungee pull and the final balloon bust of the season featured a girl who teed up the balloon and dove on it like a wrestler off the top rope - much to the chagrin of the poor guy on the ground. Who could ask for more?
RailRiders at the plate: J.R. Murphy, Ronnier Mustelier and Neil Medchill all homered in the first inning and Brent Lillibridge singled and scored ahead of Medchill’s blast. Not much after that, though, as the RailRiders went hitless from the second through sixth innings.
RailRiders on the mound: A strong start from Chris Bootcheck made an early four-run lead hold up until he left in the sixth inning. Bootcheck allowed just one hit through four shutout innings before tiring a bit, as he allowed single runs in the fifth and sixth innings. Sam Demel entered and recorded seven outs in seven batters, including two strikeouts and a double-play grounder to end the seventh.
Riding the Rails: The parent New York Yankees granted RailRiders first baseman Dan Johnson his release. Johnson, best known two-out, two-strike, two-run double for Tampa Bay that tied the Boston Red Sox on the final day of the 2011 season, led the RailRiders with 21 home runs, 69 RBI, 26 doubles and 133 games played before his release. The RailRiders put center fielder Melky Mesa, who hadn’t played in a week, on the disabled list retroactive to Monday and added Jose Gil on Wednesday. Gil, who played for the team when it was known as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees in 2011 and 2012, was in the lineup as a designated hitter Wednesday and played first base Thursday.
Attendance: 8,736, bringing the final attendance in the inaugural season and revamped PNC Field to 435,839 - an average of 6,409 fans over 68 home openings.
Today’s Game: The RailRiders head to Lehigh Valley to open a two-game series at 7:05 p.m. at Coca-Cola Park.
Today’s Probables: RailRiders righthander Chase Whitley (3-2, 3.36 ERA) opposes Lehigh Valley righty Tyler Cloyd (5-9, 4.89 ERA).
On Deck: The RailRiders will wrap up their season series with the IronPigs with a 6:35 p.m. game Saturday at Coca-Cola Park in a showdown that could decide the winner of the IronRail Trophy, awarded to the winner of the season series between the International League North rivals.
On the Radio: All games can be heard on WYCK 1340-AM, 1400-AM and 100.7 FM.
HOW THEY SCORED
RAILRIDERS FIRST: J.R. Murphy and Ronnier Mustelier hit back-to-back, one-out home runs, both to left field. Brent Lillibridge followed with an infield single. He stole second base and continued to third on an overthrow. One out later, Neil Medchill lined his first homer of the season over the right field wall. RAILRIDERS 4-0.
LEHIGH VALLEY FIFTH: Michael Martinez pulled a single to right field and dashed to third base when Leandro Castro plunked a single into short center field. Steven Lerud then singled up the middle to score Martinez. RAILRIDERS 4-1.
LEHIGH VALLEY SIXTH: Steve Susdorf dropped a double just inside the left field line, then rode home on a single to right field by Josh Fields. RAILRIDERS 4-2.