Gwinnett’s Gohara Shuts Down RailRiders
MOOSIC — Nestor Cortes breezed through the first two innings Sunday. The RailRiders starter only needed 13 pitches to get through the first two innings.
Then, things got tougher.
Luiz Gohara had a pretty easy start, too. The Gwinnett starter struck out three of the first five hitters, getting some helpless swings from RailRiders hitters.
He hit a bump as well, but it wasn’t enough to derail the outing.
Gohara struck out 10 in 5⅔ innings, Gwinnett roughed up Cortes for two big home runs and the Stripers avoided a sweep with a 7-4 win over the RailRiders at PNC Field.
“I didn’t think our at-bats early were very good,” RailRiders manager Bobby Mitchell said. “He was good, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t think he was that good where we were just swinging at balls in the dirt. I didn’t think our concentration level was as high as it needed to be.”
Gohara, a 6-foot-3, 265-pound southpaw, faced one more than the minimum through five innings of a start he wasn’t scheduled to make — Kolby Allard was scratched. Gohara’s only mistake came in the second inning against Zack Zehner, when a pitch got too much of the plate and the RailRiders outfielder drove it into the bullpens for a 1-0 lead. Otherwise, he struck out two swinging in the first, another in the second and two more in the third.
The 21-year-old was particularly tough on lefties, with Bruce Caldwell, Mark Payton, Mike Ford and Devyn Bolasky combining to go 0 for 10. Caldwell struck out three times; Payton twice.
“You couldn’t pick up the spin on the slider,” Payton said. “It was coming out of the same armslot, didn’t have any pop to it. It played like his fastball and then late kind of took off.”
He ran into some more trouble near the end of the outing. Wilkin Castillo singled to lead off the sixth and L.J. Mazzilli got ahead in the count. Gohara tried to work back, but Mazzilli got a pitch to his liking and lofted a towering drive to the bridge above the bullpens for a two-run homer that trimmed Gwinnett’s lead to 7-3. Gohara bounced back, ending his outing with a pair of strikeouts.
Cortes’ trouble began in the third, when Phil Gosselin wasn’t fooled on a two-strike quick pitch and sent a leadoff double to the right-center field gap. Two more singles followed, with Jonathan Morales tying the game at 1-1. Danny Santana delivered a bigger blow soon after, launching a three-run homer with one out.
“The guy that hit the double off me to right-center field, I think I struck him out (but didn’t get the call),” Cortes said. “After that, I guess pitch selection would’ve been different. But like I said, I can’t make that excuse. If he hits the double, then I have to execute pitches after that and try and get out of it.”
Morales drove in another run in the fourth, and Gosselin bumped the lead to 7-1 with a two-run homer to the patio chairs in left-center in the sixth inning.
Cortes would tough it out for seven innings, lessening the blow to a depleted RailRiders bullpen. He walked two and struck out four.
“I was cruising (early),” Cortes said. “I had like 13 pitches and one ball, I think. I was throwing strikes — I think I ended up with more than 60 percent of strike percentage.”
The RailRiders tried to rally against Gwinnett’s bullpen, but weren’t able to string together hits.
Abiatal Avelino led off the seventh with a single, but was erased on a forceout. Mazzilli started the eighth with a base hit, then Caldwell grounded into a double play. Rey Navarro homered in the ninth inning, but the solo shot only cut the deficit to three runs.
Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9125; @RailRidersTT on Twitter