• Ben Blakely

Rochester strikes early, falls behind in 11-6 loss in first home game in almost two years.



ROCHESTER, N.Y.---Before Tuesday night, it had been 624 days since the Rochester Red Wings welcomed fans through the gates at Frontier Field. But while boys of summer were back in town, the new-look Wings fell to the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Railriders, 8-2 in front of about 4500 fans.


Ben Braymer started hot for Rochester on the mound, setting the Railriders down 1-2-3 in the top of the first.


With the Red Wings are now the affiliate of the 2019 World Series Champion Washington Nationals, the names seem like a mirage to the Rochester faithful. However, touted prospect Carter Kieboom made the fans roar with a line drive shot into the left-field terrace, giving Rochester a 1-0 lead.


David Palka, who had been with the Wings for two years before the affiliate change, said you could feel the electricity of the fans when Kieboom made contact.


"It's kind of crazy to hear them after Carter hit the homer, and I had not played in front of people since 2019. So, it was a good feeling to hear that again," Palka said.


The momentum was in the Wings' grasps, and Braymer was ready. The 27-year-old hit his stride with another 1-2-3 inning in the top of the second, keeping the RailRiders bats at bay.


But the luck ran out for Braymer in the top of the third. After walking #9 hitter Brandon Wagner, Estevan Florial took the right-hander over the Wings bullpen, giving the Railriders a 2-1 lead.


Postgame, Red Wings manager Matt LeCroy said he could see the momentum fall from his pitcher's grasp after Baymer threw a 3-2 breaking ball that allowed Wagner to get on via a walk.


"I think that turned his outing into the direction he did not want to go. You cannot give teams free passes, and we did it, and it exploded from there," LeCroy said.


And with the momentum swing, Scranton's starter, Brody Koerner, ripped off a 1-2-3 inning of his own in the bottom half.





Once the momentum swung in Scranton's favor, Rochester began to start playing catch-up. And after giving up five runs in the top of the fourth, Braymer's exited. Bryan Bonnell came in and recorded the final out of the fourth to stop the bleeding.


With a 7-1 deficit, Rochester's offense hoped to claw their way back. But they went cold in the bottom half with another 1-2-3 inning in the meat of their lineup.


Scranton answered the call again on their third home run as a team on the night of reliever Bryan Bonnell, bringing the tally to 8-1.


Rochester did counter in the bottom half on a solo shot by Daniel Palka, his second homer of the year, cutting the deficit to six.


However, as the innings began to fall, the Wings bullpen clamped down. Bonnell and T.J. McFarland recorded four strong innings of relief with only one run and two hits allowed.


Again, the Wings were hoping for a momentum shift, and they did in the bottom of the eighth. After Gerardo Parra and Ramon Flores went down to start the inning, Rochester's offense went on a run with four consecutive batters reaching base.


Tomas would score later in the inning on a wild pitch by Addison Russ, but the Wings left the bases loaded.


As the game hit the ninth inning, there were some fireworks. The Railriders ripped three runs in the top half, extending their lead, 11-3.


Switching to the bottom half, Rochester started the inning going down 1-2. But Gerardo Parra and Ramon Flores forced a single and walk to bring up Tomas. And the 6-2, 280-pound righty did not leave empty-handed, launching a three-run moonshot into the Flour City night, cutting the lead to 11-6.


But the Wings ran out of outs, as Jake Noll grounded out to shortstop to end the comeback opportunity and extend the Wings losing streak to six.


Braymer picked up the loss for the Wings, giving up seven hits and seven runs over 3.2 innings pitched. Scranton's Trevor Lane secured the victory for Scranton with 1.2 innings of scoreless pitching out of the bullpen.


While the Wings loss extends their losing streak to six, LeCroy said it was great just having his players compete in front of hometown fans again.


"I thought it was great. The atmosphere was good. You know, we had not played in front of fans at all really, and to come here and see all the community, it was neat," LeCroy said.


Tuesday's loss drops the Wings to 2-11 on the season. The team looks for redemption on Wednesday as they host Scranton at 1:05 p.m.