MOOSIC — Scranton/Wilkes-Barre manager Bobby Mitchell said prior to Friday’s game that he’d like to see his team play more small ball to take advantage of the makeup of its new lineup due to recent roster changes.
While the RailRiders attempted a hit-and-run and Francisco Diaz executed a perfect sacrifice bunt, it was two home runs that were the difference.
Tyler Austin’s 421-foot solo blast over the RailRiders bullpen put SWB ahead for good in the seventh inning and then a frame later Avelino hit a grand slam to provide all the breathing room the team would need.
Those two blasts, totalling five runs, would be more than enough as the RailRiders (54-47) took the series opener, 9-3, from the Gwinnett Stripers (48-56).
“Eh, we played a little bit of small ball today,” Mitchell said. “We had a hit-and-run that we didn’t execute, really, because our guy on first didn’t take off on time, we had the bunt and then we decided to go deep. We had a couple homers, which was good to see. A mixture of everything.”
“I feel really happy about (the grand slam),” Avelino added. “We won the game so that’s most important.”
But it wasn’t just Austin and Avelino that did damage, both contributing with multiple hits. Mike Ford added three hits and two RBI, including an RBI double in the fifth inning.
Austin, Ford and Avelino, the team’s three, four and five hitters, combined for eight hits, five runs scored and eight RBI.
“Huge with Mike, obviously. I think he’s starting to hit like he can, really,” Mitchell said. “He’s starting to have really good at-bats. Even his outs are really good at-bats. He’s starting to hit the ball hard.”
The barrage of nine runs on 13 hits and nine walks, combined with a strong outing from RailRiders starting pitcher Erik Swanson was a deadly combination for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Swanson gave up one run on two hits and a walk while striking out seven Stripers in four innings of work. He was pulled after the fourth frame due to a pitch count of 71. He threw 74 pitches.
“He threw well,” Mitchell said of Swanson. “He could have gone — it’s good that he’s feeling fine with the groin or whatever. Just keep building him up, but he always wants to go more, which is a good thing. And his arm feels great.”
German out with ulnar neuritis
The RailRiders and starting pitcher Domingo German dodged a major bullet on Thursday.
When German left the nightcap of Thursday’s doubleheader against the Charlotte Knights, there was fear it was due to a major injury. The right-hander’s last pitch was a 89-mph fastball, which is five mph lower than his average, and he was pointing to his throwing elbow as he walked off the mound.
However, Mitchell revealed that German was only diagnosed with ulnar neuritis, which is inflammation in the ulnar nerve that can cause numbness or weakness in the hand, according to Summit Orthopedics.
“That’s good,” Mitchell said. “He’ll just stay here and not throw for 10 days. See how it feels and get on some anti-inflammatory and then go from there.”
According to Summit Orthopedics, the ulnar nerve “gives feeling to the little finger and half of the ring finger” and “controls most of the little muscles in the hand that help with fine movements and some of the bigger muscles in the forearm that help you make a strong grip.”
Today’s Game: The RailRiders continue their three-game series with the Gwinnett Stripers at PNC Field. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m.
Probable Pitchers: SWB LHP Justus Sheffield (3-3, 2.44 ERA) vs. GWI RHP Lucas Sims (4-2, 2.15)
Today at PNC Field: Sandlot Night; Sandlot Bobblehead Giveaway — First 2,500 fans receive a Sandlot bobblehead.
Riding the Rails: RHP Domingo German on the RailRiders 7-Day Disabled List; INF Tyler Wade recalled by N.Y. Yankees; OF Devyn Bolasky promoted from Double-A Trenton; RHP Luis Cessa optioned by N.Y. Yankees on July 26 and has reported; OF Zack Zehner promoted from Double-A.
On Radio: All RailRiders games can be heard live on NEPA Sports Radio – The Game.
HOW THEY SCORED
GWINNETT FOURTH: Erik Swanson pitching. Danny Santana homers to deep right. GWINNETT 1-0
RAILRIDERS FIFTH: Wes Parsons pitching. Tyler Austin singles to shallow left. Mike Ford doubles to deep left center, Austin scores. Abiatal Avelino singles to right, Ford scores. RAILRIDERS 2-1
GWINNETT SIXTH: Cale Coshow pitching. Luis Marte doubles to left. With Danny Santana batting, Coshow throws a wild pitch, Marte to third. Austin Riley out on a sacrifice fly to center, Marte scores. TIED 2-2
RAILRIDERS SIXTH: Wes Parsons pitching. Zack Zehner singles to left. Devyn Bolasky reaches on a force attempt, throwing error by 3B Austin Riley, Zehner to second. Francisco Diaz out on a sacrifice bunt to the pitcher, Bolasky to third. RAILRIDERS 3-2
GWINNETT SEVENTH: Cale Coshow pitching. Rio Ruiz walks. Sean Kazmar Jr. singles to center, Ruiz to second. Alex Jackson lines out to left, Ruiz to third. Raynel Espinal replaces Coshow. Jonathan Morales out on a sacrifice fly to center, Ruiz scores. TIED 3-3
RAILRIDERS SEVENTH: Fernando Salas pitching. Tyler Austin homers to deep left center. RAILRIDERS 4-3
RAILRIDERS EIGHTH: Fernando Sals pitching. Francisco Diaz doubles to deep left. Bruce Caldwell walks. Miguel Socolovich replaces Salas. With Mark Payton batting, wild pitch by Socolovich, Diaz to third, Caldwell to second. Mark Payton walks. Mike Ford walks, Diaz scores, Caldwell to third, Payton to second. Abiatal Avelino hits a grand slam to deep left, Caldwell, Payton and Ford score. RAILRIDERS 9-3
RailRiders 9, Stripers 3
Kazmar Jr. ss`4`0`1`0
E: Riley (4); Outfield assist: Santana; LOB: Stripers 5, RailRiders 8; 2B: Jackson (4), Marte (3), Ford (9), Diaz (1); HR: Santana (12); Austin (5), Avelino (4); SAC: Diaz; SF: Riley, Morales, Caldwell.
Gwinnett`000`101`100 — 3
RailRiders`000`021`15x — 9
Salas (L, 0-1)`1.1`3`3`3`1`0
Espinal (BS, 2)(W, 5-1)`1.2`0`0`0`0`2
WP: Socolovich, Coshow.
HBP: Peterson (by Kahnle), Bolasky (by Parsons).
Umpires: Scott Costello, HP; Alex Tosi, 1B; Ryan Wills, 3B.
Time: 2:07 (3:46 rain delay); Attendance: 5,782.
Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle