The Rochester Red Wings split a doubleheader with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders Saturday evening at Frontier Field. James Beresford's 6th inning RBI single gave Rochester a 3-2 win in the opener, but the Wings could only muster one run in game two and fell 2-1.
It was the second straight night the Wings split a twin-bill. Rochester went 1-1 in a doubleheader at Syracuse Friday night.
Going one up and one down Saturday night got Rochester within 2 and a half games of Pawtucket for the lead in the IL Wild Card Race.
Sean Gilmartin started Game One on the mound, looking for his first win at Frontier Field this season. The southpaw last appeared against Syracuse on August 17, when he allowed a season-high seven runs in four innings. Gilmartin had better luck against the RailRiders on July 12, when he lasted for 6 1/3 innings with two runs, six hits, three walks and three strikeouts. His mound opponent, lefty Manny Banuelos, was making just his third start with the RailRiders after spending the majority of the season with the Trenton Thunder (AA).
Gilmartin turned in a scoreless first inning Saturday, with a pair of strikeouts sandwiched around a walk. In the home half of the first, Pedro Florimon gave the Wings an early lead. He lined a 2-0 pitch from Banuelos into the RailRiders bullpen in left field, the fourth homer of the season for Florimon.
The RailRiders remained scoreless in the second inning, thanks to another strikeout from Gilmartin and a key defensive play from Doug Bernier at third base. Bernier snagged a grounder down the line, spun and then fired over to second base to keep Zoilo Almonte from getting in scoring position.
The Wings had more opportunities in the bottom of the second inning to add a cushion to their lead. Rochester loaded up the bases when James Beresford led off with a walk, Eric Farris singled to right field and advanced when he beat the throw on a Bernier bunt. Aaron Hicks couldn't bring in any runs, however. With a grounder back to Banuelos, Hicks caught Beresford and himself in a double play at home to first, respectively. Florimon flew out to right field, ending the inning where the Wings left five runners in scoring position.
The Wings made up for it immediately in the third inning by extending their lead to 2-0. Chris Herrmann tallied his second hit of the game with a double to the left-center gap, which scored Chris Colabello. The first baseman had led off with a ground-rule double over the right-center wall.
The RailRiders tied up the game at 2-2 in the top of the fourth with a two-run homer from Scott Sizemore, his fifth of the year and first since June 29. Gilmartin walked Rob Refsnyder, who had scored alongside Sizemore.
Right-hander Pat Venditte replaced Banuelos in the bottom of the fourth. Banuelos lasted three innings with three hits and a pair of runs (both earned), walks and strikeouts.
Gilmartin allowed a single and his fourth walk in the top of the fifth inning, prompting right-handerMark Hamburger to take the mound. In 4 1/3 innings, Gilmartin allowed three hits, two runs (both earned) with four strikeouts.
Hamburger walked his first batter to load up the bases. The RailRiders nearly scored the go-ahead run, but the Wings' defense shone through once again. Colabello fielded a grounder for an unassisted play at first, then threw out Jose Pirela at home plate.
Herrmann tallied his third hit and second double of the night to start the bottom of the sixth inning. Beresford singled up the middle, allowing Herrmann to score and give the Wings a 3-2 lead. Beresford reached second on the throw to home plate. With a Farris walk and a wild pitch from Venditte, two Wings were in scoring position. A Hicks popfly, though, ended the Wings' momentum.
In the top of the seventh inning, Michael Tonkin came in to replace Hamburger, who allowed two walks in 1 2/3 innings. Tonkin first walked Taylor Dugas, the RailRiders' potential tying run. Dugas then advanced to second base on an Antoan Richardson sacrifice bunt. Jose Pirela singled to right field then stole second to put two runners in scoring position. Tonkin struck out Ramon Flores, giving the RailRiders just one more out to score the tying run or even, winning run. With a full count, Refsnyder struck out looking.
Virgil Vasquez took the mound for Game Two in his second start for the Wings after coming up from New Britain on August 23. The righty's last appearance was August 16 with New Britain. In his first appearance with the Wings on August 11, the righty allowed five hits and four runs (all earned) with a walk and strikeout apiece in five innings on the mound.
RailRiders starter Chris Leroux is appearing against Rochester for the first time this season. The right-hander last appeared on August 18 and recorded a win against Pawtucket with two hits, two walks and five strikeouts in five innings.
Almonte opened the scoring in the top of the second inning with a solo home run to the Wings' bullpen in right field. It was his 16th homer of the season. The RailRiders continued to their offensive momentum, putting two runners in scoring position. Corban Joseph doubled to center field and Austin Romine walked, then Vasquez advanced the runners with a balk. The RailRiders extended their lead to 2-0 on a fielder's choice. The Wings got out of the inning by catching Carmen Angelini stealing second base.
Vasquez held the RailRiders in the third inning, tallying his fourth and fifth strikeouts on the day.
The Wings got on the scoreboard and made it a 2-1 game in the bottom of the third. With two outs, Beresford singled to left field then scored in a close call at the plate when Florimon doubled to right field.
Vasquez continued to deal, throwing a total of nine strikeouts through the top of the sixth inning, while the Wings couldn't find any luck on offense, striking out or flying out.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Wings had their first baserunner since the third inning. With one out, Josmil Pinto singled to right field and was replaced by Hicks as a pinch runner. With Colabello at bat, Hicks was caught stealing.
Vasquez struck out Joseph in the seventh inning for his 11th strikeout of the game, a new career high for Vasquez.
The Wings close the series against the RailRiders on Sunday afternoon with a 1:05 p.m. start, and former Yankee David Justice will sign autographs before and during the game.
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