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Sanchez, Ford Provide Power In Big Win

August 28, 2018

ALLENTOWN — Gary Sanchez started his rehab assignment with a bang, Mike Ford picked up the torch and the RailRiders left Lehigh Valley with a big win.

Sanchez smashed a homer on the first pitch he saw in the first inning, Ford doubled twice and drove in three runs, including the go-ahead one in the 10th, and the RailRiders beat the rival IronPigs, 9-8, at Coca-Cola Park on Monday night.

The win pushed the RailRiders into second place in the chase for the International League wild card, one game behind West Division co-leaders Columbus and Indianapolis, and 1½ games ahead of both Toldeo and Norfolk.

“I think it’s big for us going into this end of the year stretch here,” said Ford, who finished the four-game series with the IronPigs

6 for 14 with four doubles, a homer, six RBIs and two walks. “We had some tough losses here and we just put it all together (Monday). Come back and put up some runs late in the game. It was big.”

With the game tied, 6-6, after nine innings, Ford doubled home McBroom to start the 10th, and with two outs and the bases loaded, pinch-hitter Devyn Bolasky cashed in with a two-run single that made it 9-6.

Lehigh Valley got the tying run on base in the bottom of the inning, but Joe Harvey capped a stellar night for the RailRiders bullpen by getting Ryan Goins to ground out and end the game.

Harvey earned the win by allowing one earned run over the final 2.1 innings. He struck out three and allowed three hits, helping to get the biggest out of the game in the eighth inning.

Cale Coshow tossed 2.2 scoreless innings, but left with the bases loaded after Joey Meneses led off the eighth with a double, the RailRiders elected to intentionally walk Matt McBride with two outs and Coshow’s 3-2 fastball just missed outside to Nick Rickles to load the bases.

Harvey inherited the mess. Goins sent his pitch on a line to the gap in right center, but center fielder Tyler Wade covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time and hauled in the drive with a diving catch to keep the game tied.

Coshow struck out five of the first 10 hitters he faced before leaving after the two walks in the eighth.

“I’m starting to my confidence back a little bit,” the RailRiders’ big righty said. “Obviously, this has not been the best year stats-wise, but I feel really good with where my pitches are at. Fastball command, slider and even bring along my changeup this year. But now I definitely needed that. Regardless of stats, I just want to end the season strong and try to help my team with the playoff push.”

Sanchez is making his second rehab appearance of the season with the RailRiders as he tries to get past a groin injury. He played seven innings behind the plate Monday and finished 2 for 4 with a single and a strikeout in addition to the solo shot.

“Any player doesn’t want to be in the position I’m in,” Sanchez said through a translator before the game. “All I want to worry about is trying to get healthy and trying to get back with the team. (The injury is) nothing that I wanted to happen or is in my control. I’m just taking it day by day.”

He will play a full game as the designated hitter today against Syracuse, then catch full games Wednesday and Thursday before being reevaluated Friday. RailRiders manager Bobby Mitchell said Sanchez made it through Monday’s game with no issues.

His homer helped the RailRiders get off to a quick start against Lehigh Valley starter Drew Anderson, sending a towering blast into the bullpens in left.

“First swing, whack,” Mitchell said. “I’m like, OK we’ll take it. And then we scored three and I’m like OK we’re off to a good start, which we were.”

Ryan McBroom was hit by a pitch, then Ford doubled him home. Gio Urshela added another double and the RailRiders led, 3-0, before the IronPigs came to the plate for the first time.

Lehigh Valley would answer with a big inning of its own in the third against SWB starter Nestor Cortes. Ryan Goins doubled and scored on Collin Cowgill’s base hit. Meneses followed a walk with an RBI single then Dylan Cozens knocked in two with a double to give the IronPigs a 4-3 lead.

The RailRiders re-took the lead with Ricky Surum’s two-run single in the fourth, but Lehigh Valley grabbed it back on J.P. Crawford’s two-run homer in the bottom of the inning.

In a back-and-forth game, the RailRiders managed to strike the last blow and hang on for a much-needed win after a 2-1 walkoff loss Saturday and a 5-3 defeat Sunday.

“We needed it bad. We needed that win,” Mitchell said. “Our pitching’s short and trying to go extra innings is tough right now. That hit by Bolasky was huge, huge for us, because we weren’t going to be able to go much farther because we have to have somebody to go tomorrow.”

Contact the writer:

cfoley@timesshamrock.com;

570-348-9125;

@RailRidersTT on Twitter

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