Bruce Caldwell, Mark Payton, Justus Sheffield lead RailRiders past Gwinnett

By DJ Eberle - [email protected]
Caldwell -

MOOSIC — Bobby Mitchell had been looking for a lead-off hitter now that Tyler Wade is back up with the New York Yankees and Clint Frazier is on the seven-day disabled list.

Insert Bruce Caldwell.

Life has been good atop the lineup card for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders third baseman. Taking over the top spot in the batting order for the first time, Caldwell walked twice and registered a sacrifice fly in Friday’s win over the Gwinnett Stripers before stepping up his play on Saturday.

Caldwell opened the RailRiders’ offensive barrage with a lead-off home run in the bottom of the first inning and later doubled to help Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (55-47) coast past the Stripers (48-57), 11-1.

“I feel good,” Caldwell said. “This is actually my first time ever being in the lead-off position. It’s definitely a lot different, but I kind of like it though. You get a lot of at-bats and you get to see more pitches as well.”

But it wasn’t just Caldwell that had an impact at the plate against the Gwinnett pitching staff.

Mark Payton collected a game-high four hits, including his fourth home run of the season, and was one of six RailRiders to record multi-hit games. Francisco Diaz collected three while Caldwell, Mike Ford, Abiatal Avelino and Zack Zehner each had two.

“It’s a different lineup right now and going out there and finding ways to win back-to-back games,” Payton said. “It gives us a lot of confidence as a team moving forward and we’re going to carry it as long as we can.”

With the offense clicking on all cylinders, Justus Sheffield was able to recover from a 23-pitch first inning, which resulted in the only run he surrendered as he earned his fourth Triple-A win of the season.

The strikeout numbers weren’t there — he had three — but neither were the walks, which is an area he’s been working on. It’s just the fourth time in the last 10 games that he’s walked just one batter.

“I was glad that I got to pitch into the sixth inning,” said Sheffield, who pitched 5.2 innings. “I noticed after the third inning my pitch count was way up and I just told myself, ‘Go out there and attack and just let the defense work behind me.’ That was one of the main things that I liked about my inning, being able to bounce back and grind out those last couple innings. Obviously want to pitch deeper into games, but it was just a different type of night tonight.”

After losing a handful of players this week due to trades, call-ups and injuries, Mitchell is pleased with how his team has bounced back.

It’s easy for the first-year manager to see why his team has continued to win despite the roster shuffle. The makeup of the players remaining.

“These guys give it all they got. Every one of them. And there’s still a lot of talent out in that locker room,” Mitchell said. “They’ve shown it the last two nights, for sure, especially offensively. We’ve had the pitching and stuff — we know that. To come out offensively the last two nights and do what we’ve done, it’s really impressive.”

RailRiders 11, Stripers 1


Marte 2b`4`1`2`0

Santana cf`4`0`0`0

Riley 3b`4`0`1`1

Franco 1b`4`0`0`0

Adams rf`4`0`0`0

Ruiz lf`3`0`1`0

Kazmar Jr. ss`2`0`0`0

Jackson dh`3`0`0`0

Stewart c`3`0`0`0



Caldwell 3b`5`2`2`1

Payton lf`5`2`4`3

Austin dh`4`2`1`0

Ford 1b`4`2`2`2

Avelino ss`5`1`2`1

Bolasky cf`4`0`1`0

Zehner rf`4`2`2`1

Diaz c`4`0`3`2

Mazzilli 2b`4`0`0`0


E: Mazzilli; DP: Stripers 2, RailRiders 1; LOB: Stripers 4, RailRiders 10; 2B: Marte (4), Ruiz (21), Austin (9), Diaz (2), Ford (10), Caldwell (4); Caldwell (6), Payton (4), Ford (12).

Gwinnett`100`000`000 — 1

RailRiders`331`010`12x —11


Sims (L, 4-3)`2`7`6`6`2`5





Sheffield (W, 4-3)`5.2`3`1`1`1`3



WP: Sims, Sobotka.

Umpires: Alex Tosi, HP; Ryan Wills, 1B; Scott Costello, 3B.

Time: 3:06; Attendance: 10,000.


By DJ Eberle

[email protected]


Today’s Game: The RailRiders wrap up their three-game series with the Gwinnett Stripers at PNC Field. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m.

Probable Pitchers: SWB LHP Nester Cortes (4-4, 3.38 ERA) vs. GWI LHP Kolby Allard (6-4, 2.80)

Today at PNC Field: Family FUNday — Kids run the bases after the game, CHAMP’s Kids Club members receive free admission, and kids 12 and under receive a free meal voucher for Jersey Mike’s Subs; Bush’s Baked Beans Canned Food Drive — Bring in a can of food for a free lawn ticket to the game, all food donations will go to the Weinberg Northeast Regional Food Bank; Battle of the Bambinos Diaper Drive — anyone who brings in a pack of diapers will receive a free lawn ticket to the game; Military Discount — $2.00 off Walk-Up tickets only, with, military ID.

Riding the Rails:

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


GWINNETT FIRST: Justus Sheffield pitching. Luis Marte doubles to deep right. Danny Santana grounds out to short, Marte to third. Austin Riley grounds out to third, Marte scores. GWINNETT 1-0

RAILRIDERS FIRST: Lucas Sims pitching. Bruce Caldwell homers to deep right. Mark Payton singled to left. With Tyler Austin batting, Sims wild pitch, Payton to second. Abiatal Avelino singles to center, Payton scores. Devyn Bolasky to left, Avelino to third. Zack Zehner walks, Bolasky to second. Francisco Diaz walks, Avelino scores, Bolasky to third, Zehner to second. RAILRIDERS 3-1

RAILRIDERS SECOND: Lucas Sims pitching. Mark Payton homers to deep right. Tyler Austin doubles to left. Mike Ford homers to deep right center, Austin scores. RAILRIDERS 6-1

RAILRIDERS THIRD: Chad Bell pitching. Zack Zehner reaches on an infield single to third. Francisco Diaz doubles to deep right, Zehner to third. Mark Payton singles to left, Zehner scores, Diaz to third. RAILRIDERS 7-1

RAILRIDERS FIFTH: Jason Hursh pitching. Bruce Caldwell doubles to left. Mark Payton singles to center, Caldwell scores. RAILRIDERS 8-1

RAILRIDERS SEVENTH: Jason Hursch pitching. Zach Zehner reaches on an infield single to short. Francisco Diaz singles to center, Zehner to second. L.J. Mazzilli walks, Zehner to third, Diaz to second. Bruce Caldwell grounds in a double play to short, Zehner scores, Diaz to third, Mazzilli out at second. RAILRIDERS 9-1

RAILRIDERS EIGHTH: Chad Sobotka pitching. Tyler Austin walks. With Mike Ford batting, wild pitch by Sobotka, Austin to second. Ford walks. Devy Bolasky walks, Austin to third, Ford to second. Zack Zehner grounds into a force out at second, Austin scores, Ford to third, Bolasky out at second, Zehner to first. Francisco Diaz singles to right, Ford scores, Zehner to second. RAILRIDERS 11-1

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

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