MOOSIC — After back-to-back wins to start the three-game series against the Gwinnett Stripers, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders looked for the sweep on Sunday.
But Stripers’ starting pitcher Luiz Gohara and his 10 strikeouts got the best of the RailRiders offense while SWB starting pitcher Nestor Cortes struggled.
Cortes got into trouble in the fourth inning, surrendering four runs, and it looked like a lost cause as his teammates could not solve Gohara.
The RailRiders (55-48) offense didn’t show up until late, scoring three of their four runs after the fifth inning en route to a 7-4 loss in the series finale against the Stripers (49-57).
“Just kind of turn the page on this one and look forward to tomorrow,” RailRiders outfielder Mark Payton said. “We have to keep battling. Whatever the score is, we have to go up and put up quality at-bats and move the line.”
Gohara was almost untouchable for most of his outing Sunday, making a spot start for Kolby Allard.
After allowing Zack Zehner’s solo home run in the bottom of second inning that gave the RailRiders a 1-0 lead, the intimidating southpaw settled in. The 6-foot-3, 265-pound Gohara took care of the next 10 batters he faced before getting into trouble in the sixth inning.
Already sporting a 7-1 lead, Gohara gave up a single to Wilkin Castillo before L.J. Mazzilli brought the RailRiders catcher home. Mazzilli worked his way into a favorable 3-2 count and punched a Gohara delivery over the bullpens.
“Slider was really good,” Payton said of Gohara. “It was kind of a weird, funky spin. Just really weren’t picking it up and it was blending in with his fastball really well. … You couldn’t pick up the spin on his slider. It was coming in the same arm slot and didn’t have any pop to it. Just played like his fastball and then late, kind of, took off.”
Cortes cruised through his first two innings, retiring the Stripers in order on both occasions, but got into trouble in the third frame quickly.
Pitching with a 1-2 count to Gwinnett’s Phil Gosselin, Cortes thought he had placed his pitch perfectly to sit the Stripers second baseman down looking. It was called a ball.
Cortes lost focus and Gosselin was standing on second base two pitches later after lacing a lead-off, ground-rule double over the wall in right to start the four-run frame. Gosselin scored two batters later on an RBI single from Stripers designated hitter Jonathan Morales and center fielder Danny Santana delivered the final blow with a one-out, three-run home run.
Cortes still managed to pitch seven innings despite giving up seven runs on eight hits and two walks. He did strike out four.
“I’m not going to use excuses, but the umpire missed some calls that, you know, it was a turning point at the beginning of the game because I had the guy that hit the double off me to right-center field,” Cortes said. “I think I struck him out. After that, I guess, pitch selection would have been different, but like I said, I can’t make that excuse. If he hits a double, then I have to execute pitches after that and try to get out of it.”
RailRiders lose two relievers
The New York Yankees made a pair of trades since Friday’s RailRiders game ended.
Shortly after the last pitch Friday night, the Yankees traded relievers Giovanny Gallegos and Chasen Shreve, clearing room on the 40-man, to the St. Louis Cardinals for first baseman Luke Voit and international signing bonus pool money. Then, less than 24 hours later, the Yankees made another trade, sending reliever Caleb Frare to the Chicago White Sox for international signing bonus pool money.
Now the RailRiders are down Gallegos and Frare, but will see Voit report to the team.
“They all are (tough to lose),” Mitchell said. “Gio, big time. Such a great person, along with a competitor, along with a teammate, a long with everything. It was really hard to see. I had Frare in Double-A. See it’s hard to see him go too. Hopefully they’re headed for better, more opportunity. But we wish them the best. We’ll see how it goes.
“I don’t know (how Voit will fit in). We’ll have to figure it out.”
Stripers 7, RailRiders 4
DP: Stripers 1, RailRiders 0; LOB: Stripers 7, RailRiders 2; 2B: Gosselin (10); HR: Santana (13), Gosselin (4), Zehner (7), Mazzilli (6), Navarro (9).
Gwinnett`004`102`000 — 7
RailRiders`010`002`001 — 4
Gohara (W, 2-4)`5.2`4`3`3`0`10
Cortes (L, 4-5)`7`8`7`7`2`4
Ejections: SWB DH Mike Ford ejected by HP Ryan Wills (5th), SWB LF Mark Payton ejected by Wills (9th)
Umpires: Ryan Wills, HP; Scott Costello, 1B; Alex Tosi, 3B.
Time: 2:22; Attendance: 6,920.
Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle