Almonte’s Two-Home-Run Day Propels RailRiders to Sweep
Buffalo, N.Y. The Buffalo Bisons (7-5) may have derailed the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (7-6) Wednesday night, but in Thursday’s doubleheader, SWB stayed on track. Brian Gordon (1-1, 2.30) and Chase Whitley (1-1, 3.72) were sharp, combining to allow three base hits throughout the two games. The RailRiders offense supplied the thunder in a four–home-run contest, with two courtesy ofZoilo Almonte. The two different tales added up to a doubleheader sweep, as the RailRiders claimed game one,2-1, before finishing off the twinbill with a 7-2 win.
A night after combining for 24 base hits, the RailRiders and Bisons flipped the script in the first game. With veterans Gordon and Ricky Romero (0-0, 3.60) toeing the slab, runs proved scarce.
Gordon twirled 5.2 innings, giving up his first base hit in the fifth on a ground ball to left. While Romero’s lone blemish occurred in the RailRiders third.
SWB set the tone for the day early. Antoan Richardson led the third off with a walk. Carmen Angelini dropped a sacrifice bunt that moved Richardson to second, and the centerfielder then took third on a stolen base. Jose Pirela recorded his first RBI of the season, knocking a base hit to left to plate Richardson. The run gave the RailRiders the early lead, 1-0.
Gordon worked around four walks, including a leadoff free passes to begin the second and third. Gordon departed in the sixth in favor of Matt Daley. The RailRiders’ closer stranded an inherited runner by finishing the frame with a strikeout of Kevin Pillar. The strikeout by Daley was one of six Bisons to go down swinging in the final four innings.
Not to be outdone, Buffalo’s Romero was equally as good. The former Blue Jay tossed six innings, allowing just two base hits. After the RBI single by Pirela in the third, Romero retired 11 of his final 12 batters before exiting.
The Herd’s offense awoke in the seventh. Nolan added his second hit with a double to left. With Nolan on second, Chris Getz brought around the tying run on a single up the middle. The two hits in the inning doubled the Herd’s offensive output in the previous six innings.
After Daley stranded the winning run in the top of the seventh, right-hander Danny Burawa (2-0) began the eighth only find his own self-made troubles. Burawa worked out of a jam, after walking back-to-back batters to begin the inning. He then induced consecutive fly-ball outs by Matt Tuiasosopo and Pillar before striking out Ricardo Nanita to end the threat.
SWB broke the 1-1 deadlock with a run in the ninth. Ronnier Mustelier led off with a walk. After a sacrifice bunt by Austin Romine moved Mustelier to second, Angelini delivered on an RBI single up the middle for what proved to be the game-winning run.
Burawa earned the win, while Austin Bibens-Dirkx (0-1) was slated with a loss.
The RailRiders offense found its rhythm in game two, striking 13 base hits and four home runs. Flores singled to open the game. Kyle Drabek (1-1, 7.07) tried back-to-back pickoff attempts before the second try skipped away from first baseman, Jared Goedert. The throwing error by Drabek allowed Flores to move to third. Flores would eventually come around to score after a double by Pirela.
Corban Joseph and Almonte each added solo blasts to begin the second and third. After Almonte’s homerun in the third, Garcia followed with a double and scored on a single to left by Joseph. The RailRiders padded the lead with a home run in the fourth by Pirela, and Richardson added an RBI single to score Joseph in the fifth.
Whitley followed the template set by Gordon, tossing five strong innings. The five shutout frames by Whitley set the tone for the RailRiders relievers. Buffalo struggled offensively for much of the second tilt, scratching across single runs in the sixth and seventh.
The day was essentially done for Buffalo after Almonte added his second home run of the day, a blast to right field at the start of the seventhto cement the game. The lead proved to be too much to overcome for Buffalo as the RailRiders claimed the 7-2 triumph. The doubleheader sweep gave SWB its first road series win of the year.
The RailRiders return home for the first of an eight-game homestand at PNC Field Friday, April 18 at 7:05 p.m. SWB’s starter is TBA, while the IronPigs will toss right-hander Barry Enright (0-1, 6.52).John Sadak and Aaron Berlin will have the call on MyNetwork TV, while Jim Riley fills in on radio. The radio pregame show starts at 6:35 p.m. on NEPA Sports Radio – The GAME, Northeast PA’s largest sports radio network: 100.7 FM, 1340 WYCK-AM, 1400 WICK-AM, 1440 WCDL-AM and 106.7 FM. For season ticket information, single-game tickets or to book a ballpark group outing, call (570) 969-BALL (2255) or visit swbrailriders.com.
OFF THE RAILS:
Zoilo Almonte added the RailRiders‘ first multi-homerun game of the season.
SWB combined for six extra-base hits in game two after not hitting one in the first game.
The top three hitters in the RailRiders offense combined for three home runs and a double in game two.