ALLENTOWN — Not so fast.
If the red-hot Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees had plans of clinching the International League North Division this weekend, they're going to have to push them back for at least a little bit.
Derrick Mitchell launched a three-run home run, Cody Overbeck drove home three runs and Steve Susdorf scored three times as the Lehigh Valley IronPigs came back from an early three-run deficit to beat Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 9-5 Saturday at Coca-Cola Park.
"It's a good way to start the homestand," said IronPigs manager Ryan Sandberg, whose team closes the regular season fighting for an IL playoff spot with the final nine of its games at home.
The victory reduced Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's lead over the IronPigs to six games in the IL North. It also ended the Yankees nine-game winning streak, and kept Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's magic number for clinching the division over the IronPigs and Pawtucket at three.
The Yankees could have earned that division championship simply by beating Lehigh Valley Saturday and this afternoon coupled with a Pawtucket loss either one of those days.
The IronPigs had other ideas.
They watched starting pitcher Mario Hollands surrender two runs in each of the first two innings as the Yankees strolled to a 4-1 lead.
Then Lehigh Valley lashed out.
Overbeck laced a two-out RBI single to cut Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's lead to 4-2 in the third inning.
Then Mitchell – who recently returned from a broken hand – followed with a towering fly that didn't stop carrying until it landed in the left field bullpen for a three-run homer, bringing home Jason Pridie and Susdorf – along with a 5-4 IronPigs lead.
"He's getting his timing back," Sandberg said, "and getting his bat speed reaction to the pitches."
Then the IronPigs kept piling on.
Pete Orr doubled, Susdorf walked and Overbeck belted a two-run double in the fifth inning as Lehigh Valley's lead grew to 7-4.
Two innings later, the IronPigs added their final two runs when Mitchell and Sebastian Valle delivered sacrifice flies to put the game out of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's reach.
Early on, it appeared the Yankees were set to score a victory and move to the brink of a division-clinching celebration.
Chris Dickerson tried to get the party started when the slammed a double to start the game.
Corban Joseph followed with a single and Eduardo Nunez beat out an infield hit to score Dickerson with the game's first run. Joseph came home a little later when Brandon Laird blooped an RBI single off the glove of first baseman Overbeck for a 2-0 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre advantage.
The IronPigs got a run back in the bottom of the first when Susdorf drew a bases-loaded walk off Yankees starter and former big leaguer Ramon Ortiz.
But Scranton/Wilkes-Barre put two more up against Hollands in the second inning, when Ronnier Mustelier and Austin Romine delivered back-to-back RBI singles to give the Yankees a 4-1 lead.
That's when the IronPigs said enough was enough, and the Yankees didn't score again until Romine lofted a sacrifice fly to score Joseph in the ninth inning.
"It was early in the game," Sandberg said of facing a quick deficit against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's hot ballclub. "We got baserunners and all of a sudden we were rallying ourselves. The guys came right back."
The Yankees still have more than enough opportunity to wrap up the IL North this week.
They face the IronPigs four more times at Coca-Cola Park, beginning with today's 1:30 p.m. game when Lehigh Valley's Jonathan Pettibone will put his 4-1 record and 1.69 ERA against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's Justin Thomas (1-1, 3.56).
|Dickerson rf||4||2||1||0||Hudson lf||5||1||1||0|
|Joseph c||3||2||1||0||Hrnandz 2b||5||0||1||0|
|Nunez dh||5||1||3||1||Orr 3b||5||1||1||0|
|Mustelier lf||5||0||1||1||Pridie rf||2||1||1||0|
|Romine c||2||0||1||2||Spidale rf||1||1||1||0|
|Laird 1b||5||0||2||1||Susdorf dh||2||3||2||1|
|Mesa cf||4||0||0||0||Overbck 1b||3||1||2||3|
|Russo 3b||4||0||0||0||Mitchell cf||3||1||2||4|
|Pena ss||4||0||1||0||Calle c||3||0||0||1|
LOB – Yankees 10, Lehigh Valley 6 2B – Dickerson (24), Laird (31), Orr (12), Overbeck (27) HR – Mitchell (7)
|Ortiz (L, 12-6)||4.1||8||7||7||4||5|
|Morillo (W, 1-0)||2.0||1||0||0||2||3|
|Ramirez (H, 4)||1.0||0||0||0||0||0|