RailRiders’ opportunities wasted as Lehigh Valley clinches title in 9th

Times Leader
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Philadelphia Phillies rehabbing utility player J.P. Crawford delivered a bases-loaded single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning Saturday, along with the International League North Division title as the Lehigh Valley IronPigs edged the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, 2-1 in a dramatic game at Coca-Cola Park.

Zach Green started the winning rally with a two-out single against George Kontos and Ryan Givens pinch-ran for Green.

Logan Moore then singled to right field, sending Givens to third base and Dean Anna was intentionally walked.

Crawford, who was 1-for-23 in his rehab stint before getting two hits in his final two at-bats Saturday, then stroked a single to left field, bringing Givens home with the winning run and sending the 78-53 IronPigs into celebration with their first IL North title in the 11-year history of the franchise.

Erik Swanson allowed just three hits and struck out five in six scoreless innings for the RailRiders and departed with the game deadlocked at 0-0.

He stood in line to pick up the victory when the RailRiders cracked the scoreboard first in the top of the seventh inning.

Devyn Bolasky walked, moved to second base on a fielder’s choice and then raced to third base on a passed ball. He scored on a wild pitch, giving Scranton/Wilkes-Barre a 1-0 lead.

Danny Ortiz made sure it was brief.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, Ortiz crushed a game-tying home run off RailRiders reliever Justus Sheffield to even the score and set the stage for Crawford’s heroics.

The RailRiders had two golden chances to take the lead again in the eighth and ninth innings.

Mike Ford and Zack Zehner both walked to start the eighth and Mark Payton’s sacrifice bunt sent pinch runner Ricky Surum to third base and Zehner to second with one out. But Lehigh Valley reliever Tyler Gilbert induced a doubleplay liner from Rey Navarro, whose shot was speared by former Scranton/Wilkes-Barre infielder and current Lehigh Valley second baseman Anna — who rifled to third to double off Surum to end the threat.

The RailRiders had another opportunity in the ninth, loading the bases with one out.

Bolasky singled, was sacrificed to second base, and Tyler Gilbert and Ryan McBroom both drew walks. But winning pitcher Pedro Brato fanned Gio Urshela on a called third strike, then escaped the jam by inducing a grounder from Surum.

Zehner finished 2-for-3 with a double for the RailRiders.

Sheffield was tagged with his second blown hold after being shifted from a starting role to the bullpen last week.

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Reach Times Leader sports at 570-829-7143 or on Twitter @TLSports

Reach Times Leader sports at 570-829-7143 or on Twitter @TLSports