The Bisons have gotten off to a 7-2 start to their 2017 season campaign, mostly because of great starting pitching and by taking advantage of other team's mistakes. In a 10-2 victory over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Saturday night at PNC Field, Buffalo also added the longball to their arsenal.
The Bisons hit four home runs, including the first Triple-A blasts for both Alex Monsalve and Dwight Smith Jr., in their fifth consecutive victory over the RailRiders. Mike Ohlman added a monster homerun to straight away center while Jason Leblebijian clubbed his team-best third of the year as the Herd clinched a series win in their three-game weekend in Moosic, PA.
Ohlman got the home run party started in the fourth. With the Bisons holding a 1-0 lead, the catcher drove a 1-1 pitch from Luis Cessa to straight away centerfield for his third career Triple-A home run. After the Bisons pushed their advantage to 3-0, Monsalve took a Jason Gurka offering down the left field line for his first career home run at this level.
Activated yesterday when the Blue Jays designated catcher Juan Graterol, Monsalve was playing in just his second career Triple-A game, having made one start with Columbus last July.
The Bisons then made the RailRiders bullpen pay for their inability to find the strike zone. Ohlman and Smith Jr. walked in front of Leblebijian's three-run shot in the eighth inning. Christian Lopes drew a free pass to lead off the ninth before scoring along with Rowdy Tellez on Smith Jr.'s blast.
The two, three-run homers on Saturday alone are half of the four homers of that variety the Herd hit in all of 2016. The game also marks the first time since August of 2014 the Bisons hit four more homeruns in a game and won.
While the longballs may have stolen the show on Saturday, the early game had a similar feel to it for the 2017 Bisons. T.J. House delivered another great start, taking a shutout into the seventh inning and striking out seven in 6.2 innings of work. He's now 2-0 on the young season.
Buffalo also got their first run of the game by taking advantage of another opponent's error. Smith Jr. reached on a throwing error by RailRiders second baseman Rob Refsnyder in the second inning and came around to score after a walk, a grounder and a swinging-bunt base hit from Monsalve.
BISONS NOTES: The combination of Rowdy Tellez, Dwight Smith Jr. and Michael Ohlman scored seven of Buffalo's 10 runs on Saturday…With four more RBI, Jason Leblebijian has now driven in 10 on the year. That ties him with Gwinnett's Lane Adams and Durham's Patrick Leonard for the league lead. He's also one of eight IL sluggers with three homers on the season…T.J. House's ERA now stands at 0.77. He's struck out 12 batters and allowed just five hits this season. The Bisons are now 5-0 this year against the RailRiders. They were just 5-16 last year against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.