The Syracuse Chiefs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, swept a doubleheader from the Lehigh Valley IronPigs on Thursday. Syracuse scored five runs in the sixth inning to win game one, 7-4, and took game two, 6-5, thanks to a Danny Espinosa walkoff RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Syracuse (36-51) trailed 5-3 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning of game two. Mike Costanzo led off with a home run to cut the deficit to one. Kris Watts followed with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Josh Johnson. Chris Rahl pinch-ran for Watts before walks to Will Rhymes and Jeff Kobernus loaded the bases for Espinosa. Lehigh Valley (46-42) relief pitcher Justin Friend threw a wild pitch that scored Rahl to tie the game. Espinosa hit the next pitch up the middle for a single that scored Rhymes to win the game.
The Chiefs plated game one's first runs in the second inning. Chris Marrero doubled to lead off the frame off of IronPigs starting pitcher Tyler Cloyd. With two outs, Rahl hit a line-drive single to left field to score Marrero. Rahl advanced to second on an error by Darin Ruf. The next batter, Brian Jeroloman, slapped a double to left field that scored Rahl to give the Chiefs a 2-0 lead.
Syracuse starting pitcher Tanner Roark shut out Lehigh Valley until the top of the sixth inning. With Freddy Galvis on second base and two outs, Cody Asche doubled to left field to cut the deficit to one. Ruf then tallied a double of his own that scored Asche to tie the game at two. The runs ended a streak of 21 and two-thirds scoreless innings by Roark.
The Chiefs took back the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning. With Corey Brown at second base, Rahl at first and one out, Jeroloman reached base on a force-attempt throwing error by IronPigs first baseman Cody Overbeck. Brown scored on the play to put Syracuse back on top, 3-2. Following a Costanzo walk, Kobernus singled to left field to score Rahl. Mauricio Robles came in to relieve Cloyd, but he threw a wild pitch to Espinosa that scored Jeroloman for a 5-2 Chiefs lead. Following an Espinosa walk, Rhymes capped off the rally by reaching on an error by Robles that scored Costanzo and Kobernus to make the score 7-2.
Tyler Robertson came on to pitch in the seventh inning. Steve Susdorf singled to lead off the frame. After a strikeout, Tyson Gillies hit a home run to right-center field to cut the Chiefs' lead to 7-4. The IronPigs would later bring the tying run to the plate, but Syracuse right hander Mike Broadway got Asche to fly out to right field to end the game.
The offensive slugfest continued to start game two. In the top of the first inning, Freddy Galvis hit the first pitch of the game off of Syracuse starter Jeff Mandel over the right-field wall to give Lehigh Valley a 1-0 lead. Three batters later, Darin Ruf gounded out to Zach Walters at shortstop with runners on the corners. Cesar Hernandez scored on the play to make the score 2-0 IronPigs.
The Chiefs came back to tie the game in the bottom of the inning. With Kobernus on third base, Espinosa at first and nobody out, Brown singled to right field off of Lehigh Valley starting pitcher Zach Miner. Kobernus scored on the play to plate the first Syracuse run of the game. A couple of batters later, Zach Walters hit a sacrifice fly to center field that scored Espinosa to tie the game at two.
The IronPigs broke the tie in the sixth inning. With runners on first and second base with two outs, Michael Martinez singled to right field to plate a run and give his team the lead. Cameron Rupp then hit a single to center field that scored both runners to give Lehigh Valley a 5-2 lead.
Syracuse got a run back in the bottom of the sixth inning. Espinosa hit a leadoff double off the wall in straightaway center field. He moved to third base on a Brown fly out to right field. With Chris Marrero batting, Lehigh Valley reliever Mike MacDougal threw a wild pitch that scored Espinosa to cut the deficit to 5-3. That set the stage for the Chiefs' rally in the seventh.
Syracuse and Lehigh Valley are back in action Friday night at 7:00. Right-hander Caleb Clay goes for the Chiefs, while the IronPigs send right-hander Ethan Martin to the hill.