A grand finish: RailRiders ride Bruce Caldwell’s grand slam to victory, Governors’ Cup Finals

By Ryan Chichester - For Times Leader
Caldwell -

ALLENTOWN — The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders needed an infield single to keep Game 4 alive. They used a mammoth grand slam to put it to bed.

Shane Robinson’s game-tying infield single in the ninth sent the fourth game the Governors’ Cup first round to extra innings, where a tape-measure grand slam by Bruce Caldwell sealed a 7-2 win over the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in the 10th, as the RailRiders clinched their third straight trip to the Governors’ Cup Finals.

“Caldwell came up huge,” said Bobby Mitchell, who put Caldwell in as a pinch-hitter in the ninth. “We go into the next inning with a one-run lead, it’s a whole different ballgame.”

With the bases loaded in the 10th, an RBI groundout by Ryan McBroom gave the RailRiders the narrow lead before Caldwell blew it open.

“First grand slam I’ve ever had,” Caldwell said underneath a shower of champagne. “We left so many guys on base the past couple days, it was huge to give us a big lead in the last inning.”

The RailRiders are now 9-2 against the IronPigs in the last three postseasons, eliminating Lehigh Valley all three seasons. They were inches away from needing a Game 5.

Down to their last out, the RailRiders needed a good at-bat from Robinson, who was just 1-for-19 in the series. The RailRiders were also 2-for-27 with runners in scoring position. Pedro Beato, the International League’s saves leader, was on the mound to shut the door for the IronPigs. Not much appeared to be working in the RailRiders’ favor.

Then, the struggling Robinson poked an infield single up the middle that was stopped by a diving Dean Anna, but Robinson beat out the throw to first as pinch runner Quintin Berry scored from second to tie the game. Berry was on the move to third on the pitch, allowing him to score with ease. It wasn’t flashy, but it was enough.

“It’s nice,” Robinson said. “I haven’t been swinging the bat well…I was just trying to stay positive. I put a decent swing on it…when I saw (Anna) get up to throw I put it in second gear and I knew I was safe…it was nice to contribute when we needed it.”

The RailRiders scratched across a run in the third thanks to an RBI groundout off the bat of Gio Urshela, and it looked like it would be all the run support Mike King needed. After baffling the IronPigs through 6 1/3 one-hit shutout innings on August 24th, the August International League Player of the Month worked through 4.2 shutout frames on Saturday night, looking to shut the door on the series. King had retired 12 in a row, with the last five via the strikeout.

Then, a slow grounder up the middle was heading right into the lap of L.J. Mazzilli behind second, but the ball nicked off the bag and scooted past a surprised Mazzilli to keep the fifth inning alive and spark a rally for the IronPigs, who got back-to-back singles from their eight and nine hitters to tie the game.

Danny Ortiz followed with a go-ahead homer in the sixth off King, who went 6.2 innings. The one-run lead lasted until the RailRiders’ last gasp of breath in the ninth. It was all they needed.

RailRiders ride Caldwell’s grand slam to victory and into Governors’ Cup finals

By Ryan Chichester

For Times Leader

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

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