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Massive sixth lifts Wings

By: Liam Hoffmann

James Wood at the plate. Photo Credit: via Matt Toohey / Rochester Red Wings

ROCHESTER, NY-- The Rochester Red Wings bounced back from Thursday afternoon's defeat with a dominant 10-1 victory atop the Syracuse Mets behind an eight-run sixth inning. The eight-run inning was good for the most scored in a single inning at home by the Red Wings since Aug. 22 2019 versus the Buffalo Bisons. Tonight, Wings starting pitcher Thaddeus Ward had his longest start of the season going six innings surrendering five hits, one run which was earned, a walk and eight strikeouts.

"The reason [Ward]'s here is to work on the command," Red Wings manager Matt LeCroy said. "If you look at his stuff it's off the charts, the ball runs, it cuts, it sinks, he can get guys up in the zone, he's got good secondary pitches."

James Wood, Stone Garrett, Jack Dunn and Erick Mejia each had two RBIs for Rochester. Drew Millas, Victor Robles, and Wood recorded three hits a piece. Wood's single in the sixth brought in the go-ahead runs which put the Red Wings in the driver's seat the rest of the way.

"[Wood] slows the game down and I think that's going to be his edge to really get him to the next level," LeCroy said.

Neither team established much formidable offense early on. Mark Vientos was the only Met to reach base in the top of the first, he was hit by Ward's pitch.

The Red Wings began the game by following their theme of leaving runners in scoring position that has plagued the first 26 games of the season. After Victor Robles led things off with a double, walks for Juan Yepez and Stone Garrett loaded the bases for Rochester. Jake Alu hitting sixth nearly found a gap but a great play by shortstop Jose Iglesias, who led the way in Syracuse's Tuesday night win with two home runs, forced Alu out at first for out three and retired the inning.

In the bottom of the second, Drew Millas led off and singled to right field. Jack Dunn walked next and put another Wing in scoring position. But, the next three batters couldn't punch in. In the third, Juan Yepez led off with a double and he reached third by way of Travis Blankenhorn's ensuing groundout. However, Garrett fouled out straight up in the air and Alu grounded out to send the Red Wings to the fourth emptyhanded again.

Drew Millas got his second leadoff single of the afternoon in the bottom of the fourth but soon after Dunn grounded into a difficult double play that required lightning-fast throws out of Rylan Bannon and Yolmer Sánchez. Sánchez replaced Vientos after Vientos was struck by the pitch in the first inning. Mets pitcher Justin Jarvis allowed four hits and walked three Red Wings when he was relieved but Rochester had no runs to show for it.

"Basically, his whole outing we kind of let them off the hook and that's baseball," LeCroy said. "They saw the ball too big and got too agressive and just missed the barrel."

Through inning five, Rochester had seen runners in scoring position with zero outs in each inning besides the fourth. Come the end of the fifth, Rochester batters were 0-for-12 at the plate in such positions.

The bats came to life in the sixth, beginning in the top. Sánchez began the inning with a single. Ward attempted a pick-off to first but his throw was off the mark and as Yepez chased the errant ball, Sánchez rounded all the way to third. Carlos Cortes eventually hit a two-out single that drove Sánchez in for the game's first lead. Ward's day ended after the sixth inning surrendering only one run.

"Millas and I drew up a pretty good game plan going into the game today," Ward said. "My goal was to try to get guys to put it in play and the strikeouts came when they did."

Once the Wings trailed, hitting was suddenly much better. Alu started things off with a double and Millas' popout that followed was the 13th straight Rochester batter to fail with a runner in scoring position from the time the game started. But, Dunn then drove in Alu and got Rochester on the board.

"We were just waiting for the big hit to come through," Ward said. "It came around the sixth inning and that's when we knew we were gonna crack it open."

Erick Mejia hit a groundball to Sánchez who threw to Iglesias at second for the forceout. Then, Mejia beat out the throw from Iglesias denying the double play and enabling the huge scoring run Rochester would then go on.

"The key to this game was Mejia beating out that double play ball to keep the inning going," LeCroy said. "A lot of people don't understand how important that was but to me, he's the MVP because without his hustle, we don't have that big inning."

Robles got his second hit of the afternoon with a single that got Rochester runners on the corners. He then stole second giving James Wood two runners in scoring position. Wood capitalized and hit a two-RBI single putting Rochester ahead 3-1.

"I had opportunities with guys in scoring position earlier, so I kind of just wanted to come through when we really needed it," Wood said. "Robles did a good job getting to second on the stolen base and we already had a guy on third so I just needed to get a good pitch to hit."

The rest of the sixth saw seven straight Red Wings reach base and five of them get in for runs. Victor Robles second strikeout ended the inning.

"I really liked what happened in six," LeCroy said. "We made some adjustments and scored a bunch of runs with with two outs...we kept putting ourselves in good counts and not missing and using the whole field, which we talked about," LeCroy said.

Syracuse reliever Shintaro Fujinami was replaced by usual infielder Sánchez. Sánchez allowed RBI singles to both Mejia and Darren Baker, who replaced Robles in the top of the eighth. Alu and Dunn each scored and made the score 10-1. This would endure until the game went final.

The two sides will face off again tomorrow with first pitch set for 1:05 p.m. Joan Adon (1-2, 7.88) is expected to be on the mound for Rochester and Syracuse is expected to start Max Kranick (0-0, 5.40).

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