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Red Wings walk-off Bisons in 11th

By: Liam Hoffmann

James Wood swinging through on May 19 2024. Photo Credit: Ethan Bissinger / Rochester Red Wings

ROCHESTER, NY-- The Rochester Red Wings took the series-closing game against the Buffalo Bisons 5-4. It took 11 full innings for the Wings to secure their first full-length series win of the season, besting a Buffalo team that entered the series at 23-16. Rochester also ascended above .500 with the victory, now 21-20 on the year.

The Red Wings scored three runs in the third inning then mightily struggled at the plate until the ninth. The ninth saw Rochester load the bases but to no avail and the 3-3 tie endured into extra innings. The 10th inning was scoreless before Buffalo garnered one in the top of the 11th which set up Rochester to score two in the final frame for the win.

Erick Mejia had the game-winning RBI with his bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the 11th inning. Trey Lipscomb also had one in the 11th inning while James Wood had two in the third inning that gave Rochester the initial lead.

"The pitcher is the one throwing so I just have to be patient," Mejia said. "I'm trying to get a pitch in the middle where I can do damage...but I had a good at-bat and we won the game."

Jackson Rutledge turned in an effective start for Rochester logging 4.2 innings pitched allowing six hits and two earned runs but striking out six Bisons. Stephen Nogosek earned the win for Rochester, his first of the season, behind his single-run 11th inning where he struck out one batter and walked another.

"I thought Rut was as good as he's been for four innings and then he made some mistakes during the fifth," Red Wings manager Mat LeCroy said.

Buffalo got two-out RBIs from Spencer Horwitz, Rafael Lantigua and Will Robertson. Cameron Eden, who pinch-ran for and replaced Robertson in the ninth inning, had an RBI of his own late. It was a bullpen pitching day where Michael Mayers, who pitched only a third of an inning, was issued the loss after he allowed both runs (one earned) in the bottom of the 11th. Nine different arms threw for Buffalo in the loss.

"The hardest part when you have bullpen days, you know, you don't really get into a rhythm offensively sometimes because you're seeing a new pitcher basically every inning," LeCroy said.

The Red Wings celebrate the walk-off on May 19 2024. Photo Credit: Ethan Bissinger / Rochester Red Wings

The Red Wings didn't reach base until the third inning where they scored three runs, earning only one of them. Millas led off with a single then got to second via Stone Garret's groundout. Mejia then reached first on an error by Addison Barger at third base which caused Bisons manager Casey Candaele to relieve Watson with Brandon Eisert. Eisert immediately walked Darren Baker and loaded the bases. Alex Call, who batted next, struck out but did so on a wild pitch that allowed Millas to utilize his speed to score from third and also advanced the other baserunners. Wood was brought up with two runners in scoring position and his two-out single drove in both runners for the 3-0 lead.

"We all got a lot of confidence in ourselves and in each other so we feel like there's nobody too big that we can't make it a game," Wood said.

Buffalo found scoring success in the top of the fifth, their four singles in the inning ended Rutledge's day. Robertson and Max McDowell hit the first two and they were driven in by Horwitz and Lantigua, respectively who hit the other two each with two outs. Tim Cate relieved Rutledge and the Wings got out Nathan Lukes to retire the inning.

They continued scoring in the sixth. Barger walked and later reached second base on a wild pitch. Consecutive strikeouts of Leo Jiminez and Orelvis Martinez put Robertson up to bat with the runner on second. Robertson cashed in with a single to center field that scored Barger and knotted the game at 3-3.

After the Red Wings' surge in the third and Lipscomb's leadoff double in the fourth, no Rochester batters reached base until Wood led off the bottom of the ninth with an outfield single. The inning grew to a great scoring chance after Juan Yepez and Drew Millas got the second and third walks of the day for Rochester. But, two earlier outs meant Garrett's strikeout sent the game to a 10th inning.

The tie lasted until the top of the 11th when Eden's sac-fly drove in Barger, who was the automatic base runner. Barger had already reached third due to a wild pitch. In the bottom, Lipscomb hit a double on the first pitch of the half-inning that drove in the Rochester automatic base runner Travis Blankenhorn. Yepez singled advancing Lipscomb to third before Mayers intentionally walked Millas. The game's final plate appearance saw Mejia walk in five pitches which brought in Lipscomb for the game-winning run.

Lipscomb leaving home plate on May 19 2024. Photo Credit: Ethan Bissinger / Rochester Red Wings

Tomorrow's a rest day for both teams before Buffalo returns home to face St. Paul with a Tuesday evening first-pitch time of 6:05 p.m. The Red Wings take on the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, that series will begin with a twin-bill with Game 1 at 11 a.m. on Tuesday.

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