Frustration mounting: RailRiders on the brink in Governors’ Cup Finals

By DJ Eberle - [email protected]
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders shortstop Ray Navarro steps on the bag ahead of Durham Bulls center fielder Austin Meadows’ slide during the first inning of Game 3 of the Governors’ Cup Finals Thursday at PNC Field in Moosic. - Fred Adams | For Times Leader
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders right-hander Mike King delivers a pitch during Game 3 of the Governors’ Cup Finals against the Durham Bulls Thursday at PNC Field in Moosic. - Fred Adams | For Times Leader
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders third baseman Gio Urshela attempts to field a ground ball of the bat of Durham Bulls designated hitter Jason Coats during the second inning Game 3 of the Governors’ Cup Finals Thursday at PNC Field in Moosic. - Fred Adams | For Times Leader
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders second baseman Bruce Caldwell gets ready to throw over to first base after fielding a ground ball hit by Durham Bulls center fielder Austin Meadows during the third inning of Game 3 of the Governors’ Cup Finals at PNC Field in Moosic. - - Fred Adams | For Times Leader
Durham Bulls third baseman Brandon Snyder looks up and gestures crossing home plate after hitting a second-inning home run during Game 3 of the Governors’ Cup Finals against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders Thursday at PNC Field in Moosic. - - Fred Adams | For Times Leader

MOOSIC — There was one word that frequently popped up as Bobby Mitchell described the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders’ 3-0 loss to the Durham Bulls Thursday night: Frustrated. A second? Frustration.

The RailRiders struck out looking five times, with three in the top of the third inning. They only got a baserunner past second twice, both times failing to score. And thye saw their ace, Mike King, struggle in the first two innings as the Bulls jumped out to an early, and decisive, three-run deficit.

All of this culminated with the RailRiders reaching the brink of elimination.

When they take the field on Friday, Durham will sport a 2-1 Governors’ Cup Finals lead and will only need one more victory to punch their ticket back to a second straight Triple-A National Championship Game.

“We look a little frustrated at the plate,” Mitchell said. “When you get frustrated, it kind of effects your at-bats. But they’ve been able to frustrate us. They’ve pitched well and we’ve gotten out of our game during the at-bats. Hard to tell exactly — a lot of called third strikes tonight. I don’t know. That’s kind of different than we’re used to.

“You’re thinking about so many other things besides seeing the ball and hitting it, you know, you run into problems. It looks like that’s where the frustration’s setting in.”

The RailRiders looked close to pouncing twice on Durham pitching — once in the sixth inning and once in the seventh.

Mark Payton and Bruce Caldwell hit back-to-back singles to put runners on the corners for the red-hot Gio Urshela. But Urshela, who is batting .289 in his last 10 games, grounded into a double play to end both the threat and the inning.

Then in the seventh, with Mike Ford standing on first base after a one-out single two batters earlier, Shane Robinson laced a double to deep left field. Looking for a spark, Mitchell sent Ford home from first base. But Durham Bulls left fielder and Scranton High School alum Joe McCarthy made a nice relay throw to the shortstop, Jake Cronenworth, who threw Ford out at the plate to end the inning.

That was the last time the RailRiders got a runner past second base.

“I think that’s part of the frustration — we fall behind and start to press a little at the at-bats,” Mitchell said. “I think the sixth-inning double play was huge. When we didn’t score at all, that was huge. Trying to create some momentum going either in that inning or the rest of the game.

“Kind of took the air right out of us, the balloon, because we had a good chance at scoring, especially with Gio up and we weren’t able to do it.”

Durham starter Chih-Wei Hu was particularly deceptive against the RailRiders.

In his six scoreless innings, the right-hander picked up six strikeouts while giving up six hits. He didn’t walk a batter.

Hu’s outing left Ryan McBroom and the rest of the RailRiders looking for answers. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre first baseman was 0-for-3 against Hu with a pair of strikeouts, including one looking in the fourth inning that capped off a run of four of five RailRiders that struck out looking against the right-hander.

“You go through ups and downs during the season and that’s just the way goes,” McBroom said. “They’re making great pitches and we’re not finding holes. That’s just the bottom line.”

This was the first time King had a hiccup as a starter since reaching Triple-A.

The 23-year-old right-hander gave up three runs — all in the first two innings — for the first time with the RailRiders. But even though he faced some adversity, he was still able out give them seven innings.

King hasn’t had a start shorter than six innings since May.

“Yeah, you have to give the team a chance to win, but three runs isn’t, in my opinion, a quality start to give my team a win,” King said. “We were talking about it in this whole playoffs for us, the losing team has not scored more than two runs. So me giving up three in the first two (innings) is not a good recipe for success. It was a little frustrating, but it definitely felt good to settle in.”

McCarthy doubles

McCarthy had a big night at the plate and made some noise in left field for the Bulls.

McCarthy laced a one-out double to the wall in dead center in the sixth inning to highlight a 1-for-4 night at the plate. He also picked up an outfield assist from left field.

GOVERNORS’ CUP FINALS

Game 3 (Durham leads 2-1)

Bulls 3, RailRiders 0

RailRiders`AB`R`H`BI

Payton lf`4`0`2`0

Caldwell 2b`3`0`1`0

Mazzilli ph-2b`1`0`0`0

Urshela 3b`4`0`0`0

McBroom 1b`4`0`0`0

Ford dh`4`0`1`0

Zehner rf`3`0`1`0

Robinson cf`3`0`1`0

Navarro ss`3`0`0`0

Diaz c`3`0`1`0

Totals`32`0`7`0

Durham`AB`R`H`BI

Wong 2b`3`1`1`0

Refsnyder rf`4`0`1`0

Meadows cf`3`0`0`0

McCarthy lf`4`0`1`0

Snyder 3b`4`1`1`1

Lowe 1b`3`0`0`0

Coats dh`4`1`1`0

Cronenworth ss`3`0`1`1

James c`3`0`1`0

Totals`31`3`7`3

E: McBroom (1); PB: Diaz (1); Outfield assists: McCarthy (Ford at HP); DP: RailRiders 1, Bulls 1; LOB: RailRIders 5, Bulls 7; 2B: Robinson (1), Zehner (1), Cronenworth (1), McCarthy (1); HR: Snyder (1).

RailRiders`000`000`000 — 0

Durham`120`000`000 — 3

RailRiders`IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO

King`6.2`7`3`3`2`4

Diehl`0.1`0`0`0`1`1

Sosebee`1`0`0`0`0`2

Durham`IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO

Hu (W, 1-0)`7`6`0`0`0`0`6

Bird (S, 1)`2`1`0`0`0`2

Umpires: Jeremy Riggs, HP; Alex Tosi, 1B; John Bacon, 2B; Dan Merzel, 3B.

Time: 2:14; Attendance: 1,775.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders shortstop Ray Navarro steps on the bag ahead of Durham Bulls center fielder Austin Meadows’ slide during the first inning of Game 3 of the Governors’ Cup Finals Thursday at PNC Field in Moosic.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_rr_dur1_faa-2.jpgScranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders shortstop Ray Navarro steps on the bag ahead of Durham Bulls center fielder Austin Meadows’ slide during the first inning of Game 3 of the Governors’ Cup Finals Thursday at PNC Field in Moosic. Fred Adams | For Times Leader

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders right-hander Mike King delivers a pitch during Game 3 of the Governors’ Cup Finals against the Durham Bulls Thursday at PNC Field in Moosic.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_rr_dur5_faa-1.jpgScranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders right-hander Mike King delivers a pitch during Game 3 of the Governors’ Cup Finals against the Durham Bulls Thursday at PNC Field in Moosic. Fred Adams | For Times Leader

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders third baseman Gio Urshela attempts to field a ground ball of the bat of Durham Bulls designated hitter Jason Coats during the second inning Game 3 of the Governors’ Cup Finals Thursday at PNC Field in Moosic.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_rr_dur2_faa.jpgScranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders third baseman Gio Urshela attempts to field a ground ball of the bat of Durham Bulls designated hitter Jason Coats during the second inning Game 3 of the Governors’ Cup Finals Thursday at PNC Field in Moosic. Fred Adams | For Times Leader

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders second baseman Bruce Caldwell gets ready to throw over to first base after fielding a ground ball hit by Durham Bulls center fielder Austin Meadows during the third inning of Game 3 of the Governors’ Cup Finals at PNC Field in Moosic.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_rr_dur3_faa.jpgScranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders second baseman Bruce Caldwell gets ready to throw over to first base after fielding a ground ball hit by Durham Bulls center fielder Austin Meadows during the third inning of Game 3 of the Governors’ Cup Finals at PNC Field in Moosic. Fred Adams | For Times Leader

Durham Bulls third baseman Brandon Snyder looks up and gestures crossing home plate after hitting a second-inning home run during Game 3 of the Governors’ Cup Finals against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders Thursday at PNC Field in Moosic.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_rr_dur4_faa.jpgDurham Bulls third baseman Brandon Snyder looks up and gestures crossing home plate after hitting a second-inning home run during Game 3 of the Governors’ Cup Finals against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders Thursday at PNC Field in Moosic. Fred Adams | For Times Leader
RailRiders shut out; Bulls take series lead

By DJ Eberle

[email protected]

T.L. EXPRESS

Today’s Game: The RailRiders continue their best-of-five series against the Durham Bulls. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. at PNC Field.

Probable Pitchers: SWB LHP Ryan Bollinger (0-0, 1.59 ERA) vs. DUR RHP Andrew Moore (0-0, 2.25)

Today at PNC Field: Governors’ Cup Finals Game 4

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

HOW THEY SCORED

DURHAM FIRST: Mike King pitching. Keon Wong singles to left. Rob Refsnyder singles to center, Wong to third. Austin Meadows grounds into a force out at second, Wong scores, Refnsyder out at second, Meadows safe at first. DURHAM 1-0

DURHAM SECOND: Mike King pitching. Brandon Snyder homers to deep center. Jason Coats reaches on an infield single to third. Jake Cronenworth doubles to deep right center, Coats scores. DURHAM 3-0

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

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