Ford’s Blast Lifts RailRiders Past IronPigs
There was only one playoff game on the docket for the International League on Sunday. With the Durham Bulls advancing the night before, it was either up to the RailRiders to advance, or the IronPigs to extend the series. For most of the game it wasn’t clear who would come out on top. That was until Scranton/WB’s Mike Ford took matters into his own hands hitting his first playoff home run in the bottom of the seventh inning. That was all the RailRiders would need as they down Lehigh Valley and advance to the Governors’ Cup Final against the Bulls.
It seemed like a classic “Anything you can do, I can do better” scenario between both starting pitchers on Sunday. Nestor Cortes started for Scranton/WB against Jacob Waguespack oh Lehigh Valley and they were both locked in. Neither team could really get anything going early on. They would each allow just one base runner each inning with none going beyond first base. It wasn’t until the bottom of the fourth inning that Scranton/WB would get their first hit of the game. Miguel Andujar knocked a double to left field and for the first time all game a team was threatening. Andujar would advance to third on a fielders choice, but would be stranded there when Jake Cave struck out to end the inning.
It looked like Lehigh Valley would respond quickly in the top of the fifth with back-to-back singles by Dylan Cozens and Nick Rickles with no outs. That threat was short lived as Cortes got the next three hitters out in a row to end the inning. Neither of team looked as if they were going to blink first. There was nothing doing in the bottom of the fifth or the sixth inning either. The afternoon belonged to the gentlemen that were toeing the rubber.
Both pitcher’s were cruising up until the bottom of the seventh inning. As I mentioned in the opening Mike Ford took matters into his own bat and sent a Waguespack pitching flying over the wall in right field for the first and only run of the game. That would literally be the only offense that inning as the next three batters for Scranton/WB were set down in order.
Both starting pitchers would be lifted after the seventh inning, after what could be considered a classic pitcher’s duel. Waguespack went seven innings allowing the one run on three hits with seven strikeouts. Cortes gave up a few more hits but didn’t allow a run and struck out eight. Neither team could be upset with that playoff performance from their starters.
Lehigh Valley did make it interesting in the bottom of the ninth with two more hits, but it wasn’t meant to be as Cozens struck out to end the game.
Game one of the Governors Cup between the Durham Bulls and the Scranton/WB RailRiders is scheduled for Tuesday. First pitch is 6:35pm est at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The starters for the game have not been announced yet. Check back for the Governors’ Cup Finals Primer.