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IronPigs outlast Red Wings in extras

By: Mike Rose

Travis Blakenhorn drilled his sixth home run in his last ten games in the loss Sunday. (Photo: Rochester Red Wings/Joe Territo)

ROCHESTER, N.Y.– It was another back-and-forth affair between the Rochester Red Wings and the Lehigh Valley IronPigs Sunday afternoon. In the end, it was the IronPigs who emerged victorious, 9-7, in 10 innings. Despite the loss Red Wings Manager Matthew LeCroy still expressed pride in his team's efforts.

"We had some really unique battles but in the end, they got us there. I'm very proud of my group and how they fought. We were a couple of swings away from winning the series and we just didn't get it done but hopefully, we'll get rolling. The guys are continuing to battle and compete and for me, that's a big deal," LeCroy said.

Although the Red Wings may come away from the series with moral victories the first-place IronPigs maintained their position atop the International League after taking four of six. Rochester spent most of the week playing from behind but on Sunday it was a late-blown lead that sunk their chances.

Lehigh Valley jumped out in front in the second with a Cal Stevenson sacrifice fly and tacked on another in the fourth with a solo home run from Drew Ellis. In the bottom half of the fourth, the Red Wings' offense got going.

Erick Meija scored Carter Kieboom on a sacrifice fly to cut the lead in half and make it a 2-1 game. Rochester kept the momentum alive in the fifth. Cody Wilson and Drew Millas hit back-to-back singles before Kieboom delivered an RBI single to knot the game at two. That brought the hottest hitter in the International League to the plate in the form of Travis Blakenhorn. He continued his torrid pace in the month of August with a three-run blast and gave Rochester a 5-2 lead.

"He's been good for seven or eight weeks now. He's locked in and hopefully continue to stay hot and help us. He's carried us for a while and hopefully, we can keep him hot," LeCroy said of Blakenhorn.

The score held there until things came undone for Rochester in the seventh. After Luis Cessa struck out the side in the sixth he was called upon to work a second inning due to a lack of available arms in the Red Wing bullpen.

Darick Hall began the comeback with a solo blast to lead off the inning. Four of the next five batters that came to the plate reached safely and when Daniel Mengden was called upon to relieve Cessa the lead had vanished and the game was tied once more. Mengden was able to stem the tide but Max McDowell came through with one final blow, a two-run single, to give the IronPigs a 7-5 lead.

Rochester had one last push in them with the middle of the order leading off the bottom of the eight. Kieboom and Blakenhorn each worked walks and moved up 90 feet on a passed ball. Jake Noll followed with a rocket of an RBI single to score Kieboom. A sacrifice fly from Martin tied the game up at seven but Rochester was unable to push across the go-ahead run. Cody Wilson struck out and Drew Millas grounded out with the bases loaded to send the game tied into the ninth.

Neither team could finish the job in the ninth which sent the series finale to extra. There it was a two-out, two-run single from Esteban Quiroz that proved to ultimately be the difference. The Red Wings saw Paul Witt and Darren Baker fail to cash in with a bases-loaded opportunity in the bottom half of the 10th to seal their fate.

It was a series of big innings and missed opportunities that ultimately saw Rochester end up on the wrong end. Kieboom still believes his team is capable of getting it done as they move ahead.

Carter Kieboom finshed 2-for-4 Sunday with with an RBI and three runs. (Photo: Rochester Red Wings/Joe Territo)

"Honestly it's baseball. I think at the end of the day we're all going to show up and try to do our best. Our hitters are going to continue to put together quality at-bats and pitchers are going to continue to try and throw strikes and get people out. Sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn't. Kind of an unfortunate week for our pitchers I guess you could say but they're professionals for a reason so they'll be fine," Kieboom said.

Rochester (19-20, 53-59) will look to get rolling again when they return to action Tuesday in Buffalo against the Bisons (20-18, 54-59). Tuesday's expected starter for the Red Wings, Alex Troop, was called upon to pitch the 10th inning Sunday so Rochester will have to look elsewhere for game one of the series. Buffalo is expected to send Andrew Brash (2-1, 3.00) to the mound for the opening title. The first pitch at Sahlen Field is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

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