Tides’ Extra-inning Burst Sinks RailRiders
MOOSIC — Bobby Mitchell didn’t wait for the questions.
He knew what he wanted to say late Thursday night, after the RailRiders missed opportunity after opportunity to put away Norfolk in the first game of a critical four-game series at PNC Field.
“We were 3 for 18 with runners in scoring position,” the RailRiders’ first-year skipper said. “That kind of tells a big story. We had a lot of opportunities to score, and we just didn’t take advantage of them.
“We’re not going to win many games going 3 for 18 with runners in scoring position. We’re just not. We’re not that kind of a team.”
Mountain Top’s Matt Wotherspoon spun 5⅔ solid innings, allowing two runs on seven hits and striking out seven in his first appearance of the season at PNC Field, and despite two late-inning comebacks, the RailRiders ultimately fell, 7-4, in 10 innings to a Tides team they’re trying to overcome in the race for the International League’s Wild Card playoff berth.
With the loss, the RailRiders dropped to third place in the wild-card chase, two games behind leader Columbus and one behind the Tides.
A Crestwood graduate and former RailRider, Wotherspoon got himself into trouble but mostly did what the entire Norfolk staff did best on Thursday night.
They danced out of it.
The RailRiders wasted a one-out double in the first, and fifth innings against Wotherspoon, failing to advance either runner. They got another one-out double against him in the sixth, and Giovanny Urshela actually got to third on a wild pitch. But, he got stranded there. They squandered another good chance in the seventh, leaving two runners on, then left the bases loaded after Tyler Wade’s bases-full walk tied the game.
In all, the RailRiders left 14 runners on base and left Mitchell at a loss for how to thoroughly explain it outside of wondering if hitters are putting too much pressure on themselves.
“I think, sometimes, people want to step up a little too much, me included, and get outside of themselves and outside their approach,” designated hitter Mike Ford said. “It happens from time to time, and it might happen for a week at some points. But it’s a team thing where we’re all going to click at one time. Hopefully, we come back (tonight) and we’re 10 for 10 with runners in scoring position, if that’s possible.”
The RailRiders never led, but they repeatedly fought back to make a game of it.
Mike Yastrzemski led off the game by destroying the first pitch RailRiders starter Chance Adams threw, ripping it over the left-center field wall for a homer. Yastrzemski would work a bases-loaded walk in the second to make it 2-0, but the RailRiders got those runs back in the bottom of that inning, which proved to be the only one in which they seemed to time up Wotherspoon’s offerings.
Urshela started the frame with a triple, and Wilkin Castillo doubled him home to cut the lead in half. Devyn Bolasky singled in Castillo to tie it up.
But Wotherspoon settled down, and after Garabez Rosa homered against him on the first pitch of the fourth inning, Adams battled to keep the game close. In his 5⅓ innings, he allowed seven hits and walked four, but only those three runs scored.
“I just tried to get ahead,” Adams said. “The home runs were my weakness tonight, and that was it.”
The RailRiders tied the game in the eighth, an inning spurred by back-to-back one-out singles by Zack Zehner and Castillo. Ultimately though, lefty D.J. Snelten’s two-out walks of Ricky Surum and Tyler Wade brought the tying run in.
Those runs exchanged in the ninth set up Norfolk’s relative explosion in the 10th against right-hander Cale Coshow. Garabez Rosa singled to left to bring home the courtesy runner, Luis Sardinas, for a 5-4 lead. But a single and a walk extended the inning for a well-struck double by Breyvic Valera that sailed over Zehner’s head in right and brought both runners home.
“That killed us,” Mitchell said. “We get out of there with one run, we’re OK. We just had to get out of that inning. But, you can’t give up three.”
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