Welcome back, Tyler Austin.
In his return from the disabled list, Austin blasted a two-run home run after Bruce Caldwell ripped a solo shot, and starting pitcher Justus Sheffield evened his Triple-A record as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders got past Pawtucket, 3-2, in an International League baseball game Sunday.
The RailRiders overcame a team record-tying 18 strikeouts at the plate — leadoff man Shane Robinson was the only RailRiders who didn’t strike out Sunday — with the long ball.
Caldwell ripped an opposite-field home run off emergency Pawtucket starter Fernando Rodriguez Jr. to start the second inning to give the RailRiders a lead to keep.
Austin’s blast was a two-run shot in the fifth and came after L.J. Mazzilli worked a walk against PawSox reliever Williams Jerez.
Sheffield allowed five hits, one run and struck out seven over 5 1/3 innings while improving to 3-3 with the RailRiders this season. His next appearance will likely come in the Futures Game on Saturday, as the RailRiders head into the Triple-A All-Star break at 46-41.
Cody Carroll struck out two batters in a perfect ninth inning to polish off his ninth save for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Rodriguez was forced to make the start for Pawtucket when scheduled starter William Cuevas was called up to the parent Boston Red Sox before the game.
Rodriguez allowed three hits but only Caldwell’s home run over 2 1/3 innings and three Pawtucket relievers followed Jerez and held the RailRiders to one hit through four shutout innings while Pawtucket pecked away.
Ivan De Jesus doubled to start the sixth inning and raced home on a Sam Travis single off Sheffield as the PawSox pulled within 3-1. Mike Miller doubled and scored on a Stephen Tarpley wild pitch in the seventh inning as Pawtucket crept closer, but Tarpley came back with a scoreless eighth inning before Carroll locked down the victory.
Austin finished 2-for-4 in his first game since going on the seven-day disabled list.
The win put the RailRiders at a season-best five games above .500 heading into the break, even with the dubious strikeout record they matched.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre is idle for the next three days over the Triple-A All-Star break. Cody Carroll will represent the RailRiders in Wednesday’s All-Star classic at Huntington Park in Columbus, Ohio. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre resumes play at 7:05 p.m. Thursday at PNC Field against the Rochester Red Wings in the first of a four-game set.
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