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Bisons battle back, stun Red Wings

By: Mike Rose

In one of the wilder games you'll see in professional baseball the Buffalo Bisons emerged victorious defeating the Rochester Red Wings 10-8. The Bisons found themselves trailing 8-0 in the fifth but rallied all the way back for their largest come-from-behind victory of the season.

The game began with both teams trading scoreless frames. Buffalo went with an opener in Sean Mellen who pitched two scoreless frames. Junior Fernandez followed with two perfect innings to post a zero on the board through four innings. On the other side Red Wings starter Jose Ureña was dancing in and out of trouble for much of the first four frames. However, Ureña kept the Bisons off the scoreboard through four. In the fifth inning, the game did a complete 180.

Julian Fernandez would come on to take over on the mound for the Bisons in the fifth. Richie Martin led things off for Rochester with a single before advancing on a groundout by Francisco Arcia. Martin would swipe third base and come around to score the first run of the game on an RBI single from Derek Hill. Hill would quickly steal second before Darren Baker grounded out and then the hit parade began.

Carter Kieboom stepped in and lined an RBI single up the middle to make it a 2-0 game. Travis Blankenhorn followed by launching his sixth home run of the season to make it 4-0. Matt Adams would double, and Nomar Mazara would work a walk, which would be the end of the line for Fernandez. Brandon Eisert relieved him and the first batter he faced, Franklin Barreto, would find the seats in right field to make it 7-0. Martin would step in for his second at-bat of the inning and double before stealing third for the second time in the inning. Arcia would finish off an eight-run fifth by lining a base hit to left field and scoring Martin.

Despite a big deficit facing Buffalo on the scoreboard, the Bisons would not go away quietly. Manager Casey Candaele says his team never wavers in their confidence.

"They don't care. They never give up and when you do that you have the ability to come back in games like this. Down 8-0 you could be totally demoralized as a team but they don't do that they come in and say 'Let's go.' It's pretty cool to watch. I just sit back and go 'Wow I can't believe this happening again," Candaele said.

That attitude didn't take long to turn in results as the Bisons responded immediately in the bottom half of the fifth. The first five batters of the inning reached safely for the Bisons as Rafael Lantigua singled, Ernie Clement walked, Spencer Horwitz ripped an RBI single, Wynton Bernard walked, and Otto Lopez delivered an RBI single. Just like that the deficit had been trimmed down to 8-2. Ureña would retire the next two batters with the bases loaded before number nine hitter Jamie Ritchie stepped to the plate. Ritchie entered play tonight batting .179 with just one RBI. He would deliver on this night with a full-count hit that dropped just inside the right field and resulted in a bases-clearing triple. Ritchie says he just trying to stay back in his approach and go the other way against Ureña.

"Ureña has a really good sinker so I was just trying to see it deeper in a full count. You don't want to get pull-happy against a guy like, especially with a lot of sink because it's easy to hit the ball on the ground so I was just trying to hit one in the air the other way. Kudos to the guys in front of me for being on," Ritchie said.

After the big blow from Ritchie cut the score to 8-5 it was the end of the night for Ureña. Red Wings manager Matthew LeCroy said they had the matchup they wanted with Ureña against the right-handed Ritchie.

"You got to give him that spot there. They had the righty and he had made that guy (Ritchie) look pretty bad all game. He wasn't giving up a lot of hard contact, if they had been hitting the ball in the gaps it's a little different story. I just tried to give him a chance, my bullpen was a little light and we felt 'he's gotta pitch right here," LeCroy said.

Ureña would give way to Anthony Banda who would allow two more hits from the Bisons, including an RBI single from Tanner Morris, before escaping the inning with the score 8-6 in favor of Rochester.

The score would hold there until the bottom of the seventh when the Bisons got rolling once again. The inning started with Tyler Heineman reaching on an error which would spell the beginning of another lead getting away from the Red Wings. LeCroy said those are simply plays his team has to make.

"You gotta catch the ball. It's just one of those things you can't just give away free outs. Those are outs that 99% of the time on that ball the play is made and we didn't make it. It's one of those things that's how it kind of snowballs. You're gonna make mistakes and you have to be able to pitch around it and limit the damage to one and not four," LeCroy said.

On this night Jose Ferrer would be unable to do so. He walked the next batter LJ Talley before the hero of the night, Ritchie, stepped in and delivered another big hit. Ritchie went the other way once again, this time for a two-run double that tied the game up. Ritchie would be lifted for a pinch runner in Cameron Eden who scored on a sac fly from Lantigua. Clement would score the insurance run after he walked and came in on a wild pitch to make it 10-8. Candaele praised Ritchie's ability to deliver in big moments despite not getting regular at-bats this season.

"It's been tough. He's been on the development list where he hasn't been able to play and he's continued to keep himself in shape, continue to work hard. He's getting some opportunities and he's doing the best with them and it's a tough job. It's tough to sit on the bench and only play two or three times a week and put together quality at-bats and be successful and do the things he did tonight. That is resiliency and he's been the epitome of that and he's been a great teammate so it's good to see that happen," Candaele said.

Hayden Juenger and Paul Fry closed the door on the mound for the Bisons as they did not allow a hit in the final four innings. Juenger would earn his fourth win in the game while Fry would be credited with the save, his fourth.

With another come-from-behind win, the Bisons move to 20-22 on the season, winning eight of their last 10 contests. Rochester falls to 16-24 on the season with the loss. The two teams will meet in game four of the series Friday night with first pitch scheduled for 6:05 pm.

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