MOOSIC – A few feet here, a few inches there, and perhaps the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees would have opened their four-game series against Syracuse with a win.
Instead of a tough one-run loss.
The Chiefs took advantage of two solo home runs and a couple of timely defensive plays to post a 3-2 win against the Yankees on Tuesday night at PNC Field.
Both home runs off SWB starting pitcher Casey Fossum – one by Brad Eldred in the second inning and another by Mike Vento in the fourth – barely cleared the outfield fence.
“They got one more run than we did,” said SWB hitting coach Butch Wynegar. “There’s not much more you can say. They got the two home runs and we didn’t. We didn’t put anything together.”
A couple of excellent defensive infield plays by the Chiefs kept the Yankees from tying the game in the bottom of the eighth inning.
With out, Austin Jackson hit a double and Todd Linden followed with a ground ball up the middle. Syracuse second baseman Seth Bynum got the ball, pivoted, and made a strong throw to get Linden out at first. Jackson advanced to third on the play.
Shelley Duncan followed by ripping a hard grounder down the third base line. Kory Costo fielded the ball, but his throw to first sailed high. First baseman Eldred made a leaping grab and tagged out a sliding Duncan to end the inning.
Justin Leone accounted for both SWB runs with a pair of sacrifice flies. In the fourth inning with the Chiefs holding a 2-0 lead, Linden reached on an error and went to third on a one-out single by Juan Miranda. Leone followed with the first of his two RBI to make the score 2-1.
The bottom of the seventh inning also got off to a good start for the Yankees, who were trailing 3-1.
Miranda hit a leadoff triple and scored on Leone’s sacrifice fly to make it 3-2. Eric Duncan reached on an error, but Syracuse starting pitcher J.D. Martin got Chris Stewart to fly out and reliever Saul Rivera came into the game and struck out Doug Bernier.
“I guess you could look at it like I got the job done,” said Leone, who also grounded out in the second inning and flew out in the bottom of the ninth. “But I really would have loved to get a base hit at the end of the game. Getting runs across, that’s the goal of the game, so I guess I was able to do that.”
After Leone’s first RBI cut the Syracuse lead to one run, the Chiefs went back up by two in the top of the fifth, thanks to a double by Gustavo Molina and an RBI single by former SWB Red Baron Jorge Padilla.
A nice defensive play by Duncan in right field in the top of the sixth inning prevented the Chiefs from taking a bigger lead.
Mike Vento reached on an error to lead off the inning and Kory Costo hit a one-out double to put runners on second and third. Seth Bynum hit a sharp line drive that was caught by Duncan. Vento attempted to score on the play, but Duncan fired a perfect strike to catcher Chris Stewart, who tagged out Vento to end the inning.
Fossum wasn’t overpowering, but was effective. The left-hander scattered seven hits and allowed the three runs in six innings. Reliever Anthony Claggett pitched three scoreless innings, allowing just one hit.
“(Fossum) competed,” said SWB pitching coach Scott Aldred. “There were maybe a couple pitches he shouldn’t have thrown, but he kept us in the game. He gave us a chance.
“Clags threw strikes, attacked, threw 30 pitches in three innings. I couldn’t ask for more. He came into the game and kept them where they were at. We had opportunities. It just didn’t work out.”
Martin allowed five hits and two runs – one earned – in 6 2-3 innings for the Chiefs. Saul Rivera allowed a hit in 1 1-3 innings and Logan Kensing pitched a hitless ninth inning.
“Their pitchers did a good job,” said Jackson, who has hit safely in 15 of his last 16 games. “That’s just how it is sometimes in baseball. You have those games when you’re waiting for the big hit and you never get it.”
HOW THEY SCORED
Syracuse Second: Brad Eldred led off with a solo home run. CHIEFS 1, YANKEES 0
Syracuse Fourth: Mike Vento hit a solo home run with two outs. CHIEFS 2, YANKEES 0
SWB Fourth: Todd Linden reached on an error to start the inning. With one out, Juan Miranda singled to advance Linden to third. Justin Leone hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Linden. CHIEFS 2, YANKEES 1
Syracuse Fifth: Gustavo Molina hit a two-out double and scored on a single by Jorge Padilla. CHIEFS 3, YANKEES 1
SWB Seventh: Miranda led off with a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly by Leone. CHIEFS 3, YANKEES 2