Justus Sheffield picks up first Triple-A win as RailRiders down Louisville

By DJ Eberle - [email protected]
Sheffield -

MOOSIC — Friday was just that kind of night for Justus Sheffield.

He touched 96 mph as he neared 90 pitches in the sixth inning, he struck out a Triple-A-best eight batters, but possibly most impressive of all was the out the 22-year-old southpaw recorded to start the sixth frame.

Louisville Bats second baseman Nick Senzel shot a comebacker right at Sheffield, which he attempted to catch but was only able to knock down. After the starting pitcher knocked the ball down, he attempted to pick it up off the bounce barehanded but knocked it behind the mound. Sheffield was able to spin, collect himself, track the ball, pick it up and fire a strike to first baseman Ryan McBroom for the out.

It was that kind of night, and the strong performance from Sheffield propelled the RailRiders (27-32) past Louisville (21-36) 4-3.

“My slider was on tonight, my changeup was really on tonight, my fastball command came as the game started going on, but I felt good,” Sheffield said. “It felt good to make that play if I’m being honest. It felt really good. I needed that and Nick Senzel, good friends with him. I grew up playing against him in high school, so it’s always fun to get those guys out.”

While Sheffield’s fastball was effective and sat in the mid 90s the entire night, even touching 96, it was his secondary pitches that were most effective.

Of his eight strikeouts, six came on his secondary pitches, with five on his slider.

Sheffield pitched six innings — two unearned runs did score — and gave up just one hit and walked three batters as he picked up his first win as a RailRider.

“Huge because I actually — I felt like early on they weren’t seeing my slider,” Sheffield said. “I was getting it down and in on them, getting it good. Then I felt like they were cheating on my heater early on so I was getting them with my changeup, even if it wasn’t the greatest changeup in the world. I would get them off balance with it in the dirt, get rollers with it and then later in the game we had a game plan to revert back to the fastball for strikeout pitches because we figured they changed their approach.

“Yeah, golly. It honestly felt good to get out of the first inning without any trouble. Having the win, that’s just a bonus honestly.”

Bruce Caldwell broke the game open with a three-run home run in the fourth inning, providing the RailRiders a 3-0 lead.

Then two innings later, after Louisville put up a pair of unearned runs on Sheffield in the fifth, RailRiders first baseman Ryan McBroom, who was back after a brief stint in Double-A after Mike Ford was put on the disabled list earlier in the day, had a home run of his own to give Scranton/Wilkes-Barre a 4-2 lead.

“When you see a guy putting them down like it’s nothing, you just want to get out there and get them some runs to get a W,” Caldwell said. “Yeah, I kind of put a good swing on that one so I knew it was gone. I’ve done that a couple times. It felt good.”

Ford out with oblique injury

Ford was placed on the 7-day disabled list with an injury to his right side on Friday. RailRiders manager Bobby Mitchell said prior to the RailRiders’ game against Louisville that he was unsure with the severity of the injury.

“Last at-bat (Thursday), he thought it was a cramp on his right side, but it could be more, ” Mitchell said. “We have to make sure it’s not an oblique and he hurts it worse.”

RailRiders 4, Bats 3


Herrera dh`3`0`1`3

Williams cf`5`0`0`0

Senzel 2b`3`0`0`0

Cruz 1b`4`0`0`0

Ervin lf`2`0`0`0

VanMeter lf`1`0`0`0

Peterson 3b`3`1`0`0

Guerrero rf`4`1`1`0

Tromp c`2`0`0`0

Trahan ss`3`1`0`0

Iribarren ph`1`0`1`0



Wade ss`4`0`1`0

Frazier cf`3`0`1`0

Drury 3b`3`0`1`0

McKinney rf`4`0`0`0

McBroom 1b`4`1`2`1

Payton lf`2`1`1`0

Higashioka c`3`1`1`0

Caldwell 2b`3`1`1`3

Mazzilli dh`3`0`0`0


E: Guerrero (3), Wade (4); OA: Williams, Guerro; DP: Bats 1, RailRiders 0; LOB: Bats 9, RailRiders 5; 2B: Herrera (5), Frazier (9), Wade (9); 3B: McBroom (1); HR: Caldwell (2), McBroom (6); SB: Payton (1); CS: Payton (1).

Louisville`000`020`001 — 3

RailRiders`000`301`000 — 4


Lopez (L, 2-6)`5`6`3`3`3`5





Sheffield (W, 1-2)`6`1`2`0`3`8

Gallegos (H, 2)`1`0`0`0`1`1

Kahnle (H, 1)`1`0`0`0`2`2

Carroll (S, 5)`1`2`1`1`2`3

WP: Sheffield.

Ejections: Louisville LF Phillip Ervin.

Umpires: Adam Beck, HP; Skyler Shown, 1B; Rich Grassa, 3B.

Time: 2:52; Attendance: 10,000.


By DJ Eberle

[email protected]


Today’s Game: The RailRiders continue their three-game series against the Louisville Bats at PNC Field. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m.

Probable Pitchers: SWB LHP Josh Rogers (5-4, 3.29 ERA) vs. LOU LHP Brandon Finnegan (1-4, 4.18)

Today at PNC Field: Backyard Baseball Night — The RailRiders will change their name to the Melonheads for the night and will wear specialty jerseys. The jerseys will be auctioned off with proceeds being donated to the Boys and Girls Club; Sanchez/Judge 2017 Silver Sluffer Wiffle Ball & Bat Set — The first 2,500 fans will receive a limited edition wiffle ball and batt set; Youth Baseball & Softball Night; Legends Series — The RailRiders welcome Hall of Famer Tim Raines to PNC Field as the first Legends Series appearance for 2018.

Riding the Rails: 1B Mike Ford was placed on the 7-day DL. 1B/OF Ryan McBroom was recalled from Double-A Trenton.

On Radio: All RailRiders games can be heard live on NEPA Sports Radio – The Game.


RAILRIDERS FOURTH: Jose Lopez pitching. Mark Payton walks. Kyle Higashioka singles to center, Payton to second. Bruce Caldwell homers to deep center, Payton and Higashioka score. RAILRIDERS 3-0

LOUISVILLE FIFTH: Justus Sheffield pitching. D.J. Peterson walks. Gabriel Guerrero reaches on a fielding error by SS Tyler Wade, Peterson to third. Blake Trahan grouns into a force out to third base, Peterson to third, Guerra out at second, Trahan to first. Dilson Herrera doubles to left, Peterson and Trahan score. RAILRIDERS 3-2

RAILRIDERS SIXTH: Kyle Crockett pitching. Ryan McBroom homers to deep center. RAILRIDERS 4-2

LOUISVILLE NINTH: Cody Carroll pitching. Gabriel Guerrero reaches on an infield single to second. Chadwick Tromp walks, Guerrero to second. Hernan Iribarren singles to right, Guerrero to third, Tromp to second. Dilson Herrera walks, Guerrero scores, Tromp to third and Iribarren to second. RAILRIDERS 4-3

Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle

Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle