GUSTO Wind Carries Fleming’s Slam In ’Riders’ Victory
MOOSIC — At the very least, Billy Fleming knew he hit it well enough to get one run home. That would’ve cut Lehigh Valley’s lead to three runs and made sure the RailRiders got something out of an early rally.
The wind had other ideas.
Fleming’s fly ball kept carrying to right field. Dylan Cozens kept racing back, changing directions in the process.
The ball landed in the seats.
Fleming tied the game in the second inning with that grand slam, then Ryan Lavarnway’s bases-loaded single ended it in the 10th inning as the RailRiders beat Lehigh Valley, 6-5, at a freezing PNC Field on Monday night.
It was the RailRiders’ (8-4) fifth straight win.
“We have a great clubhouse,” Fleming said. “The guys come to work every day just trying to get better and just try to get some wins. Everyone’s been putting their part in. Just playing really well right now. We’re going to try to keep it rolling.”
Lehigh Valley scored four two-out runs against RailRiders starter Nestor Cortes Jr. in the second inning on two-run doubles by Malquin Canelo and Phil Gosselin.
Cortes battled the rest of the way. The IronPigs had a runner aboard in each inning against him, but outside of that second inning, no runs crossed.
“I gave my team a chance to win, which is most important — thanks to Billy Fleming,” said Cortes, who allowed eight hits in five innings, walked two and struck out five. “I think stuff could’ve gone out of control after those four runs. So, I’m happy, yeah. I’m happy that I gave my team a chance to win and a chance to fight back and they did it immediately.”
The RailRiders loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning against Lehigh Valley starter JoJo Romero. Gosuke Katoh reached on a forceout, Zack Zehner singled and Cliff Pennington walked.
Fleming worked the count full, then fought off a pitch for what looked to be a routine fly ball distance wise. The wind, clocked at 22 mph at gametime, pushed it out.
“I knew it was deep enough for a sac fly and then the wind was just taking it,” Fleming said. “I was like, ‘Oh that might have a chance.’ And then it just went out.”
It was his first career grand slam.
Ryan McBroom gave the RailRiders the lead in the third inning, blasting a home run out to left field and into the wind — his third home run in three games.
J.P. Feyereisen worked 1⅓ scoreless innings — though a fly ball by Gosselin ticketed for the bullpens got beat down by the wind to start the seventh.
Stephen Tarpley pitched around a single in the seventh and a walk and an error in the eighth. When Gosselin doubled and moved to third on a wild pitch with no outs in the ninth, however, he had a mess to deal with.
The lefty got Dylan Cozens to groundout to first, then Jan Hernandez hit a grounder right to a drawn-in Thairo Estrada at shortstop for the second out. Tarpley had Mitch Walding down to his final strike, then the IronPigs lefty shot a single to left to tie the game at 5-5.
Cale Coshow stranded the extra runner in the top of the 10th, setting the RailRiders up to win it in the bottom of the inning.
Mike Ford pulled a grounder to the right side to move Estrada, the free runner, to third with one out. Lehigh Valley elected to have reliever James Pazos intentionally walk Trey Amburgey and McBroom to load the bases, then Lavarnway ripped a single inside third to win it.
“Awesome. It was an awesome win,” RailRiders manager Jay Bell said.
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