MOOSIC, PA – Held without a hit for much for the night, it was patience that allowed the SWB RailRiders (Triple-A/ New York Yankees) to even the Governors’ Cup Championship Series at 1-1 against the Gwinnett Braves (Atlanta Braves). The RailRiders used four walks and a hit batsmen to walk-off the G-Braves 2-1 and bring the curtain down on the 2016 season at PNC Field.
Phil Coke kept the RailRiders in the game throughout the night by holding Gwinnett to a run on three hits over 7.1 innings. The southpaw fanned nine without walking a batter. Giovanny Gallegos (2-0) took home the win in relief after blanking the G-Braves over the final 1.2 innings. He struck out two.
Sean Kazmar Jr. produced the only run for Gwinnett in the fourth when a two-out, bloop double dropped in right field to score Ronnier Mustelier from first.
The combined efforts of starter Chris Ellis and reliever Madison Younginer held SWB without a hit through seven innings. Pinch hitter Cito Culver delivered the club’s only knock when he bounced a double fair of first with one away in the eighth inning.
The RailRiders seized the moment in the ninth, however as Donovan Solano and Chris Parmelee worked consecutive walks off Bradley Roney (0-1) to begin the ninth. An errant fastball went too far in and plunked Kyle Higashioka to load the bases.
Michael Cleto quickly relieved Roney, but could not escape the jam. With no one out, Jake Cave took a four-pitch walk to plate Solano for the tying score. Pete Kozma followed with a base-on-balls that forced home the winning run in Cesar Puello.
With the series even, the championship round shifts to Cool Ray Field in Lawrenceville, Ga., for Game Three. Right-hander Brady Lail (0-0, 2.25) gets the nod against right-hander Tyrell Jenkins (0-0, 3.60). First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. The G-Braves will also host Game Four at 7:05 p.m. on Friday, September 16 and, if necessary Game Five on Saturday, September 17.
Season tickets for the 2017 season are now on sale. Should SWB advance to the Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game, the RailRiders staff will host a watch party at Revello’s Café Pizza in Old Forge, Pa. on September 20 beginning at 8 p.m. There will be pizza and drink specials, raffles and prizes from the RailRiders. To purchase tickets or to find out more information, call 570-969-BALL (2255) or visit swbrailriders.com.
OFF THE RAILS:
In the ninth inning, the G-Braves used two pitchers and fired 20 pitches. Only three were strikes (Roney 11-2 and Cleto (9-1).
SWB was held to one hit in a playoff game for the third time in club history. Rochester (9-9-06) in a 2-0 win and Columbus (9-10-10) in a 1-0 victory also held SWB to one hit.
The RailRiders posted 11 walk-off wins during the 2016 regular season, including the final two home games against the Syracuse Chiefs (Washington Nationals). Wednesday’s win marked the 12th and third in the final five games.
Donovan Solano earned three of the RailRiders’ nine walks on the night and tied the team record for most walks by a batter in a single playoff game (Doug Bernier vs. Gwinnett, 9-12-09).
The nine bases-on-balls fell one shy of their regular season high 10 versus the Durham Bulls on July 22 and one shy of the franchise record for walks in a single playoff game (10 at Durham, 9-12-08).