The Red Wings needed a win Saturday night to continue their Governors' Cup hopes; a loss would have ended the Wings' season and sent them home. The result couldn't have pleased fans back in Rochester more.
Jeff Clement had three hits and three RBI, and Scott Diamond struck out eight over seven shutout innings to lead the Red Wings to a 9-1 win over the Pawtucket Red Sox Saturday night at McCoy Stadium. The win tied the best-of-five series at two games each, with the deciding game Sunday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. Virgil Vasquez is the scheduled starter for the Wings, with Charlie Haeger slated for the PawSox.
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Antoan Richardson opened the game by drawing a walk from Pawtucket starter Matt Barnes, a highly regarded Boston pitching prospect making his first post-season start and second start at the Triple-A level. Barnes, a strikeout pitcher throwing in the mid-90's, fanned both James Beresford and Eduardo Escobar. During those at-bats, Richardson stole second base and advanced to third on a passed ball. Clement stroked a two-out single to right field, scoring Richardson for an early 1-0 Rochester lead.
The Wings had Diamond on the mound in the must-win game, and Diamond struck out two in a scoreless bottom of the first inning.
Rochester put another runner in scoring position in the second, when Eric Farris singled with one out and moved to second on a groundout by Ray Olmedo. Eric Fryer ripped a line drive to right-center, where Shannon Wilkerson made an outstanding catch to take away a run-scoring hit from Fryer and end the inning.
Diamond allowed a two-out single in the second inning, and added two more strikeouts to run his total to four for the game.
The Wings caught a break in the bottom of the third inning, with two out and Drew Sutton on first base. The scoreboard showed a count of 3-2 with Alex Hassan at bat, when home plate umpire Adam Hamari used his fingers to hold up a 2-2 count. Diamond's next pitch to Hassan was called a ball, and Sutton started jogging to second - thinking it was ball four. An alert Fryer fired down to second base, where Escobar easily tagged out an confused Sutton for the third out.
The Red Wings made it a 2-0 lead in the fourth, with Clement again a key factor. Clement led off with a double, and moved to third on a bloop single by Deibinson Romero. Aaron Hicks drilled a long fly ball to center, which allowed Clement to easily tag up and score from third base.
Pawtucket got back-to-back singles in the bottom of the fourth inning with one out, when Jonathan Diaz' hard ground ball was snagged by Olmedo at third base. Olmedo stepped on the bag for a force out, then fired to Clement at first to complete the Wings' second double play of the game.
Barnes got into trouble in the top of the fifth inning, after Olmedo and Fryer both singled. With Richardson at bat, Barnes uncorked a wild pitch to advance the runners - then walked Richardson on four pitches to load the bases. That ended Barnes' night on the mound, with Alex Wilson coming on to pitch for the PawSox.
Beresford swung at the first pitch from Wilson, tapping the ball back toward the mound. Wilson fielded, then slipped and dropped the ball for an error which allowed Olmedo to score. The Wings then reeled off four straight hits, including a two-run double by Clement. By the time Farris took a called third strike from Wilson for the first out of the inning, the Wings led 8-0 with runners at second and third base. After the strikeout, Jose De La Torre came in to pitch for Pawtucket. Olmedo lined what looked like a hit toward right field, but second baseman Brock Holt made a lunging grab to deny Olmedo a run-scoring hit. The Fryer drilled a hot shot to third, with Diaz making a short hop stab and throwing out Fryer to end the six-run inning.
Diamond allowed at least one baserunner in every inning through the first six, striking out six and throwing 86 pitches without walking a batter.
In the top of the eighth, Beresford and Richardson combined for consecutive, one-out singles. Beresford's hit gave each member of the Wings' lineup at least one base hit in the game.
A.J. Achter took over for Diamond on the mound in the bottom of the eighth, after Diamond had posted a seven inning worksheet with seven hits allowed, no walks and eight strikeouts. Diamond threw 97 pitches, 66 for strikes.
Achter walked the first two batters in the ninth, then got a double play ground ball. Diaz blooped a single over Beresford's hit to end the shutout bid. A chopper back to the mound by Christian Vazquez was fielded by Achter, who threw to first for the final out of the game.
Romero had three hits and a walk, and Farris had two hits and a run batted in.
NOTES: Ray Olmedo and James Beresford each now have seven hits in the playoffs, tops among all batters in the first round. Durham will open the Governors' Cup Finals at home on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
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9/8 @PAW 1:05 Game Five - RHP Virgil Vasquez vs. RHP Charlie Haeger