Porcupine Points: June 29 at Lehigh Valley
ABOUT LAST NIGHT: The chase for the IronRail Trophy heated up Saturday night at Coca-Cola Park as the RailRiders rode an early barrage of extra-base hits to a 4-3 win over the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. The RailRiders moved to 3-1 in their five-game road trip and leapt out of last place and over Lehigh Valley in the process. SWB has now claimed the last the last two affairs between the in-state rivals after dropping six of the first seven. The RailRiders had lost nine of their prior 11 one-run games before claiming the single-score success.
WELCOME BACK: Chris Leroux made his first SWB appearance since a loss to Lehigh Valley April 21. He tossed five innings on 75 pitches and allowed just one run on three hits (two infield singles, one on a bunt). It marked his first stateside win since Aug. 27, 2012 when he triumphed versus Columbus while a member of Indianapolis’ rotation.
STOP, THIEVES!: The Chiefs went 4-for-4 in stolen base tries in Thursday’s doubleheader. The RailRiders have allowed their opponents to successfully swipe a bag in each of their last 22 tries. The RailRiders have nabbed just 21 of 107 (.196) would-be base stealers. No IL team has had more stolen base attempts or successes against it than SWB which has the circuit’s worst caught-stealing efficiency. Lehigh Valley leads the league with its .397 caught-stealing efficiency.
UNDER MY PIRELA: Jose Pirela made his first career appearance in right field. He has now played first, second, left and right as a RailRider. He also posted two hits and lifted his average to .316, good for eighth in the IL. He also ranks among the circuit’s best in hits (2nd, 94), runs scored (2nd, 52) and total bases (3rd, 135). He has hit .345/.392/.527/.919 this month with a league-best 38 hits.
WHAT ABOUT BOB?: After starting his Triple-A tenure 2-for-16, Rob Refsnyder has gone 19-for-43 (.442/.579/.791/1.370) with eight extra-base hits (three home runs), nine RBIs, 13 walks and 14 runs scored in 14 games. His efforts yesterday saw him go 1-for-2 with an odd inside-the-park home run. Refsnyder ranks among the league’s June leaders in average (2nd, .356), on-base percentage (.479) and OPS (2nd, 1.090). The June OBP leads all of Triple-A.
ON A ROLL: Kyle Roller went 2-for-2 with two walks and a run scored. His fourth multi-hit showing in his last six games lifted his Triple-A average to .301. He has gone 9-for-20 (.450) in that time with four walks (.542 OBP).
JUST-US LEAGUE: The RailRiders lead the loop in batting average (.271) and slugging (.406)…However, SWB has the IL’s lowest walk total (242, 2.99/game) and just a .335 OBP…Lehigh Valley ranks second-worst with its .242 contact clip and last with its .363 slugging percentage…Lehigh Valley ranks 10th in the 14-team league with its 4.18 ERA while SWB stands 11th at 4.36…The RailRiders own the IL’s second-worst fielding percentage (.976) while the IronPigs boast its fourth-best rate (.982).
IRONRAIL TROPHY: On June 13 of last year, the RailRiders and IronPigs announced the creation of the “IronRail Trophy”. The 16-game series between the RailRiders and IronPigs decides the annual winner. The stakes have the losing team’s GM singing in a fat lady costume on the winner’s video board after home wins in the series and the heavy hardware itself. The trophy is held by the previous year’s winning team. The 2013 series was an 8-8 draw, but per the rules, the winner of the last game won the tiebreaker. By taking a 3-2 contest on Aug. 31 in Allentown, the RailRiders claimed the prize. SWB owns a 59-46 lead in the all-time series dating back to Lehigh Valley’s inaugural 2008 season. Lehigh Valley has only won a season series against SWB once, and did so by the slimmest of margins when it went 9-7 in 2010. The RailRiders trail this year’s set, 6-3.