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Bisons outlast Red Wings in extra-inning marathon

By: Mike Rose

Spencer Horwitz reached safely four times in the win for Buffalo, including an RBI single. Photo: Rochester Red Wings/Ethan Bissinger

ROCHESTER, N.Y.– In the longest game of the season for both teams, it was the Buffalo Bisons who survived Wednesday night defeating the Rochester Red Wings 5-4 in 12 innings. The three hours and fifty-eight-minute marathon endeavor featured a little bit of everything and it left both managers looking at what could be shorthanded bullpens headed into the remainder of this series.

"It was a good battle between both teams," Red Wings Manager Matthew LeCroy said. "We had a couple of chances to win it and we just didn't do it situationally which is disappointing but you gotta tip your cap sometimes. They made pitches and we didn't hit them but hopefully we can bounce back tomorrow."

Early on with the sun still shining at Innovative Field, the Red Wings struck first. Jeter Downs ripped a base hit before being brought home by Travis Blankenhorn to make it a 1-0 lead for the Wings.

The Bisons would answer back in the third. Otto Lopez led off with a triple before Spencer Horwitz brought him home to knot the game at one. Later in the inning, Rafael Lantigua brought in Horwitz with an RBI groundout to give Buffalo an early edge.

The score would hold there until the seventh when Downs would deliver once again. His RBI double scored Richie Martin and tied the game up at two.

Jeter Downs produced his second multi-hit game since returning from the injured list on July 1. (Photo: Rochester Red Wings/Ethan Bissinger)

Meanwhile, the Red Wings pitching staff began emerging as the storyline of the game. Jose Ureña retired the final three batters he faced in the third before two perfect innings to finish off his night. From there the Red Wings bullpen would string together six consecutive no-hit innings until the twelfth inning was led off with a hit. Daniel Mengden, Tim Cate, Luis Reyes and Tommy Romero combined in the effort for Rochester.

"You know it was just pass the baton one after the other, throw strikes and trust the defense. We've had a great plan with both catchers both Drew (Millas) and Jacob (Nottingham). So just attack them, stay ahead and go from there," Mengden said.

Despite not allowing a hit there was plenty of action ensuing in the extra frames. It started in the 10th as Buffalo struck first behind three walks, a wild pitch, and a passed ball, to move in front. Cameron Eden crossed home to put Buffalo ahead on the wild pitch from Reyes.

Daniel Mengden pitched two [perfect innings in his Red Wings debut Wednesday. (Photo: Rochester Red Wings/Ethan Bissinger)

Rochester responded in the bottom half with an RBI double from Jake Noll to even the game at three however the Red Wings couldn't push across the winning run as Erick Meija and Richie Martin struck out to end the inning.

The Bisons were set down in the 11th in order, leaving the door open for an opportunity for Rochester. The speedy Martin began as the ghost runner on second with the top of the order due up for the Red Wings. However, despite Jake Alu moving Martin over to third on a ground-out, the Wings couldn't cash in as Downs and Blake Rutherford were set down stranding the winning run 90 feet away.

Finally, in the 12th the Bisons broke through. Tanner Morris led off the inning with the first hit since the third for Buffalo and scored the ghost runner Eden from second.

"You just have to lock it in as you step up to the plate," Morris said. "You have to imagine two guys before you even get up there that it's like your first at-bat of the day and in the last one I got a good fastball to hit and turned it around."

The Bisons pushed across a major insurance run on a wild pitch that scored Morris to give them a two-run edge heading to the bottom half of the inning. Rochester made one last push in the bottom of the 12th. Rutherford began the inning as the ghost runner and Drew Millas led off with an infield single. That brought the winning run to the plate for Rochester but Blankenhorn and Noll flew out to put the Red Wings down to their final out.

Travis Blakenhorn went 2-for-5 for his fourth consectutive multi-hit game. (Photo: Rochester Red Wings/Ethan Bissinger)

Nottingham kept the Wings alive with an RBI single before Meija walked to load the bases. Martin was struck out by Trent Thorton to give Buffalo the victory to even the series.

"It's a long game. I think it was more mentally exhausting for most guys for how long the game lasted. We'll enjoy the night and show up like we always do ready to play tomorrow," Morris said.

The victory moved the Bisons (38-44) to 4-3 in the second half while dropping the Red Wings (38-43) to 4-4. Morris believes a win like this one can be built upon for Buffalo.

"Starting the second half and getting a good win like this and hopefully we gained some momentum moving to the next games," Morris said.

Hagen Danner (0-1, 5.79) will make his first career start for Buffalo tomorrow on what was scheduled bullpen day while Joan Adon (2-5, 4.81) is slated to get the ball for Rochester. First pitch is scheduled for 6:45 pm at Innovative Field.

(Photo: Rochester Red Wings/Ethan Bissinger)

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