Ben Paulsen homered in both games and Daniel Palka went deep twice in game two as the Rochester Red Wings swept a doubleheader with the Syracuse Chiefs, 6-2 and 10-2, Sunday afternoon at NBT Bank Stadium.
Paulsen also hit a grand slam on Opening Day and has homered in each of the first three games to begin 2017. He is the first Red Wing since at least 1997 to hit a home run in each of the first three games of the season. The last Wing to go deep in the first two games of a season was Oswaldo Arcia in 2013.
The Red Wings (3-0) swept the three-game set with Syracuse while outscoring the Chiefs 26-6. Rochester has won the first three games of the season since the 2004 Wings won their first eight games.
Syracuse led 2-0 after scoring a single run in each of the first two innings off Nick Tepesch (1-0) but the right-hander settled in after the 2nd inning. The Wings got on the board in the 4th on a Kennys Vargas RBI single. Mitch Garver tied the game with a bloop single in the 6th and Paulsen followed with a three-run blast to give Rochester a 5-2 advantage. Vargas added an RBI double in the 7th to cap the scoring.
Tepesch surrendered two runs on six hits and two walks with two strikeouts over 5.0 innings. Trevor Hildenberger earned the save in his Triple-A debut, striking out the side in the first of his two innings. The right-hander fanned four in his outing and allowed two singles.
The team remained scoreless to the 3rd inning until ByungHo Park’s RBI single gave the Red Wings a 1-0 lead. Drew Rucinski was called upon to make a spot-start and the only blemish was a solo home run by Irving Falu in the bottom of the 3rd to tie the game. Niko Goodrum’s first Triple-A home run the next half inning gave Rochester a 2-1 lead it would not relinquish. Palka hit the first of his two home runs in the 5th, a two-run no-doubter to right, and Paulsen followed with his third homer in as many games to extend the lead to 5-1.
The 6th inning started harmlessly for the Wings as the first two hitters of the frame were retired. Quintin Berry walked, Tommy Field doubled, Matt Hague added a two-run single, Park followed with an RBI double and Palka went deep for the second time in as many at-bats and a five-run inning put the Wings ahead 10-1.
Rucinski pitched well but did not qualify for the win after surrendering one run on three hits with five strikeouts in 4.0 innings. Alan Busenitz earned the win after throwing 2.0 perfect frames including striking out the side in the 5th. Syracuse would not go quietly as the Chiefs hit three straight solo home runs off Alex Wimmers in the 7th. Wimmers retired the next three hitters as Rochester prevailed 10-4.