MOOSIC — Bottom of the ninth, a tie game, bases loaded, two outs and a 3-2 count.
Vicente Conde has been a Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRider for all of six days and was playing in just his second game with the Triple-A squad. But he had the chance to put the RailRiders in the win column for the first time since Friday.
All it would take was one swing of the bat.
Or would it?
Facing Lehigh Valley IronPigs reliever Tom Windle, who had already walked two batters in the inning, Conde didn’t flinch when the southpaw threw a fastball at the third baseman’s feet. Ball four and Conde trotted to first base as L.J. Mazzilli touched home plate, delivering the RailRiders (17-19) a 4-3 win over the IronPigs (20-16).
“Knowing that there was bases loaded, obviously he didn’t want to walk me, but he did,” Conde said. “You have to just zone in on one pitch because he’s not going to try to fool you too much because he doesn’t want to throw anything away or walk me like he did.
“It’s always great when you win, especially in a walk-off manner. It doesn’t matter what it is — hit or walk or anything — and just to be a part of that. It’s always a good feeling, you know? Everybody goes home happy.”
But it all started when Scranton/Wilkes-Barre scored three runs in the fifth inning to tie the game 3-3.
As the RailRiders entered the game losers of five of their last eight games games, time and time again manager Bobby Mitchell said his team needed to string together timely hits if they were going to be successful.
After failing to do so much of the last week and a half, the RailRiders were able to find a way on Tuesday. They strung together five hits in the inning — an Adam Lind home run, Zack Zehner triple, Ryan McBroom RBI double, Rey Navarro RBI single and Tyler Wade single — to dig out of a three-run hole.
“I think that’s what’s been missing,” Zehner said. “That one hit and today, that was it right there. Broomy came through with that double and it put us (within one) and got the momentum going. That’s something what we’ve been missing, but that’s not something you can really work on, you know? That’s not something you can really control, but I think that off day (on Monday) allowed us to kind of take a step back and clear our heads.”
Nestor Cortes threw 3.1 no-hit innings before Mitch Walding took a 0-2 fastball and drove it over the wall in center field to put Lehigh Valley on the board.
The IronPigs were able to knock Cortes out of rhythm after the southpaw had struck out the last seven batters leading up to Walding’s home run. Lehigh Valley scored two more runs — one more in the fourth on a Joey Meneses RBI single and a Collin Cowgill sacrifice fly in the fifth inning — before the 23-year-old was able to settle back into his groove.
Cortes finished with 6.2 innings on a season-high 80 pitches. The three runs scored on six hits and a walk. He did strike out a season-high eight batters.
“The first inning was a little wild. Wasn’t commanding much,” Cortes said. “Had a talk with the pitching coach, Tommy Phelps, and everything clicked after that. He just gave me some advice of not trying to strike out everybody, which I did, but he was mostly telling me to command my pitches because that’s where I go into play — where when I command, get it to two strikes and then I can do anything I want with the pitch. So yeah, he was trying to get my head right and it worked.”
It didn’t take too long, but Clint Frazier is finally back in pinstripes.
The New York Yankees promoted the hot-hitting outfielder prior to Tuesday’s game against the Washington Nationals, with right-hander David Hale being designated for assignment. Frazier batted .362 with three doubles, two triples, three home runs and four RBI in 12 games.
“We’re really happen for Clint,” Mitchell said. “He was playing well. He’s in a good spot in all areas. Hopefully he just goes up there with the same confidence he was playing with here and really helps the team win some ball games up there.”
While Mitchell admitted he hadn’t had many interactions with Frazier prior to spring training, he did see a difference in the outfielder compared to when the two were together when the 23-year-old outfielder rehabbed with Double-A Trenton last season.
Frazier is much more relaxed this season, and it’s showing at the plate and in the field.
“I told him when I called him — I hope — if he keeps doing what he’s doing, it’s going to be hard to send him back,” Mitchell said. “I think it’s his overall outlook on the game. In the past he’s been worried about different things. I think we tried to make it all simple for him — clear his mind as much as possible — so he could just concentrate on what he was doing more and I think that helped him a lot, actually, both offensively and defensively.
“It builds confidence, you know? I think when you’re that way and things start going right. He was happy with what he did here. Just got to go up there and feel the same way.”
Mitchell provided updates on INF Billy Fleming (back), RHP Anyelo Gomez (shoulder) and LHP Justus Sheffield (shoulder) prior to Tuesday’s game. Fleming should return to action in a week while Gomez is still sideline for three weeks to a month. Mitchell doesn’t think Gomez needs surgery. Sheffield is scheduled to pitch Saturday in Buffalo. … The RailRiders announced that former Yankees closer John Wetteland has been added to the 2018 Legends Series. He will make an appearance before the July 13 game against Rochester. The full list now stands at Wetteland, Tim Raines (June 9), Jose Canseco (June 19), Rickey Henderson (June 30), John Flaherty (Aug. 3) and Andre Dawson (Aug. 18).
RailRiders 4, IronPigs 3
E: Walding (5), OA: Robinson; DP: IronPigs 0, RailRiders 2; LOB: IronPigs 4, RailRiders 6; 2B: Plouffe (4), McBroom (5); 3B: Zehner (1); HR: Walding (6), Lind (1); CS: Cozens (3).
Lehigh Valley`000`210`000 — 3
RailRiders`000`030`001 — 4
Windle (L, 2-2)`0.2`1`1`1`3`0
Carroll (W, 2-0)`1`1`0`0`0`2
Umpires: Alex Toss, HP; Ryan Wills, 1B; Scott Costello, 3B.
Time: 2:27; Attendance: 4,318.
Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle