MOOSIC, PA – The SWB RailRiders (Triple-A/ New York Yankees) overcame a two-run deficit and scored a walk-off, 5-4 win over the Syracuse Chiefs on Sunday afternoon at PNC Field. The RailRiders (90-52) became the first team in the International League to reach the 90-win mark since the 2002 SWB Red Barons finished 91-53. The Chiefs (61-81) have lost nine straight to SWB.
On a day the bullpen carried the workload, Johnny Barbato (3-2) after tossing 1.1 scoreless innings. He allowed a single and struck out one. Justin DeFratus (2-3) absorbed the defeat after allowing a run on one hit and two walks in an inning of work.
Syracuse grabbed an early lead off Matt Wotherspoon in the second inning, but Jake Cave lined a two-run homer to right in the last of the frame for a 2-1 lead. The Chiefs responded with runs in the third, fifth and seventh innings for a 4-2 advantage.
Mark Payton began the eighth with a double off reliever Derek Self. Jonathan Diaz laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Payton to third. With two away, Cesar Puello laced a double into right, scoring Payton. Jose Rosario followed with a single over third and Puello raced across home to tie the game 4-4.
After a scoreless top of the ninth, Pete Kozma opened the home half with a walk off DeFratus. Cito Culver reached on a bunt single and Kozma moved to second. Payton worked a four-pitch walk to load the bases. DeFratus retired Diaz on strikes to bring up Kyle Higashioka. The catcher rolled a grounder to third, but Payton beat Matt Skole’s force out attempt to second allowing Kozma to cross for the winning run.
The RailRiders can tie the franchise record for wins in a single season (91) with a victory in their regular-season finale. Left-hander Richard Bleier (2-3, 3.83) gets the starting nod against right-hander Joe Ross (0-2, 4.91) on MLB rehab with the Syracuse Chiefs on Monday, September 5. First pitch is set for 12:05 p.m.
The 2016 IL North Division champion SWB RailRiders will face the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in the semifinals of the Governor’s Cup playoffs beginning Wednesday, September 7. The RailRiders will host Game Three on Friday, September 9 at 6:35 p.m. If necessary, SWB will host the IronPigs for Game Four on Saturday, Sept. 10 at 6:35 p.m. and Game Five on Sunday, Sept. 11 at 1:05 p.m. Come cheer on your RailRiders as they seek the franchise’s second Governor ‘s Cup! Playoff tickets can be purchased by calling 570-969-BALL (2255) or online at swbrailriders.com!