The Syracuse Chiefs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, split a doubleheader with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs on Sunday night. Syracuse's furious rally fell short in game one in a 7-6 loss, but the Chiefs recovered for a 6-4 win in game two.
In game one, Lehigh Valley (49-53) struck first in the top of the first inning against right-hander Mitch Lively, making his Syracuse debut. After a Clete Thomas groundout, shortstop Freddy Galvis reached base on a fielding error by first baseman Greg Dobbs. Third baseman Maikel Franco followed and doubled to deep left field to score Galvis. Two batters later, first baseman Darin Ruf doubled off the wall in left field, scoring Franco to make the score 2-0.
The IronPigs opened the floodgates in the top of the second inning against Lively. Second baseman Tyler Henson led the inning off with a double to right-center and was driven home by catcher Sebastian Valle, who singled to left field. Three batters later, Galvis walked and Franco doubled to left field to score Galvis. The next hitter, right fielder Russ Canzler, singled to left field to score Franco. Ruf kept the hit parade going with a two-RBI double to deep left field to increase Lehigh Valley's lead to 7-0.
After six shutout innings, Syracuse (60-42) started a monstrous rally in the bottom of the seventh inning against right-hander Jason Marquis. Right fielder Destin Hood sent Marquis' second pitch of the inning over the fence in left field for a solo home run, his eighth of the year. After a Greg Dobbs single to right field, catcher Sandy Leon clubbed a 3-1 pitch from Marquis over the wall in right field for a two-run home run, cutting the lead to four. After a Will Rhymes groundout, pinch hitter Steven Souza Jr. doubled down the left-field line, and shortstop Emmanuel Burriss followed by knocking him in with a double to the gap in right-center field. Following that, center fielder Eury Perez and third baseman Zach Walters each walked on five pitches from reliever B.J. Rosenberg to load the bases for Tyler Moore. The left fielder hit a ground-ball single to left field, scoring Burriss and Perez to cut the lead to 7-6. However, Hood stepped to the plate for the second time in the inning and grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the game.
In game two, Syracuse's offensive momentum continued into the bottom half off the first inning. With one out, Walters homered over the right-field wall off left-hander Greg Smith for a 1-0 Chiefs lead.
Lehigh Valley responded with a run in the top of the second with one swing of the bat. With two outs, Nate Spears hammered a James Simmons pitch over the right-field fence to tie the game at one.
The Chiefs came right back with three runs in the bottom of the second. Brandon Laird led off the inning with a single. Hood followed with a base hit to put runners on first and second. Laird After a Jhonatan Solano fly out, Josh Johnson lined a pitch into the left-center field gap for a two-run double, scoring Laird and Hood for a 3-1 Syracuse advantage. After a Simmons groundout, Jeff Kobernus singled to left field to score Johnson and give the Chiefs a three-run lead.
Lehigh Valley cut into the Chiefs' lead in the top of the third inning. Smith led off with a base hit to right field. Thomas followed with a double to center field, moving Smith to third base. A Henson single to right field scored Smith and advanced Thomas to third to cut the Syracuse lead to two. Thomas scored on a Franco sacrifice fly to left field to slice the Chiefs deficit to 4-3.
Syracuse extended its lead back to three runs in the third inning. Souza, Jr. led off with a single to left field. After a Moore line out, Laird singled to left field to put runners on first and second. With two outs and Solano at the plate, a passed ball allowed Souza to advance to third base and Laird to second. Solano singled to plate Souza and Laird for a 6-3 Chiefs lead.
The IronPigs cut into the Chiefs lead in the sixth. With one out, Leandro Castro doubled to right field. Spears followed with a double to score Castro and cut the Syracuse lead to two. Left-hander Xavier Cedeno entered after that, however, and retired the next five batters to earn a save and preserve the win.
The Chiefs next begin a two-game series with Pawtucket on Monday night at 7:00. Syracuse left-hander Aaron Laffey will oppose Red Sox right-hander Allen Webster.