The most important outs in a ball game aren't always the last ones of the night.
The winningest manager in the Bisons modern era, Marty Brown, recognized that fact and pushed the right button at exactly the right time to guide the Herd to a 7-5 victory over the Bats on Friday night from Louisville Slugger Field.
Brown called on his closer, Neil Wagner, in the seventh inning of a game that was on the verge to being an extremely tough loss for the Herd. Buffalo had held a 6-1 advantage in the contest, but Louisville rallied to 6-5 and had the bases loaded with only one out in the bottom of the seventh.
So, rather than wait until the ninth, Brown brought in his most reliable bullpen arm when he needed it most. Wagner did not disappoint.
The righty was nothing short of magnificent in his most impressive outing of the season. Wagner came on and blew a fastball past the minors top home run hitter, Mike Hessman. He then caught Josh Fellhauer looking with another heater to end the inning and preserve the lead.
But Wagner was not done there.
The closer stayed on to strike out the side in the eighth inning. The fastball was too much for Emmanual Burriss and then his slider dipped past the bats of both Nevin Ashley and Kristopher Negron.
Wagner retired the side again in the ninth inning, finishing his ninth save of the season with a sixth strikeout of the night.
After completing the eight-out save, Wagner has now allowed just two hits and struck out 20 in his last 11.2 innings of work.
Buffalo built a 6-1 lead early thanks to Mauro Gomez's two-run double in the first and home runs from Eugenio Velez and Anthony Gose in the second inning. Jim Negrych added another multi-hit performance and scored after his second single and a wild pitch in the fourth inning.
Gomez added his fifth home run of the season in the ninth inning for insurance.
Pitching on short rest, Dave Bush improved to 4-2 by allowing just two runs in six innings of work.
BISONS NOTES The Bisons announced that Ricky Romero will start for the Bisons on Saturday night against Louisville…Jim Negrych now has 13 multi-hit games this season. He raised his average to .430…The Bisons are now 12-3 in their first 15 games on the road this season.