Saturday night's first game between the Pawtucket Red Sox and Buffalo Bisons was the completion of a suspended game from April 23. For the Herd and its fans, it was more than worth the wait.
A most forgettable game turned into an unforgettable night at Dunn Tire Park as the Bisons shocked the PawSox with a comeback of historic proportions. Trailing 14-6 in the ninth inning, the Herd rallied for nine-runs in a heart-stopping 15-14 victory.
"How many times in baseball history have you seen a team score nine runs in the bottom of the ninth inning," said infielder Trent Durrington. "I imagine you can probably count that on one hand...I've never seen anything like that."
A Bisons' victory seemed so far out of reach that the team used Durrington, their sixth "pitcher" of the game, to record the final out in the top of the ninth. Pawtucket scored five in the frame, distancing themselves from Buffalo with a 14-6 lead.
But as Durrington went into the clubhouse after his outing, his Bisons teammates went to work. Ben Francisco led off the inning with a walk and the Herd began to take advantage of several Pawtucket miscues. Sox reliever Craig Hansen misplayed Hector Luna's come-backer before failing to cover first base when Joe Inglett grounded one to first. Hansen then hit Mike Rose to force in a run.
Jason Cooper followed with a single to plate a second run and Inglett scored to make it 14-9 when David Murphy failed to catch Brad Snyder's pop up in shallow left field. Hansen was finally chased from the game when Ryan Mulhern ripped a double down the left field line to plate the fourth and fifth runs of the inning.
Unbelievably, after trailing by eight, the Bisons we're down just 14-11 and had the tying run at the plate.
"When we started getting some runs, and they kept coming and coming, you don't want to leave you seat and jinx it," said Durrington, who admitted he remained in the clubhouse until after the game. "It's just one of those baseball things, you know."
As Durrington watched, Pawtucket turned to reliever Manny Delcarmen, who did what Hansen couldn't. He got Franklin Gutierrez to line to short for the first out of the inning. But a third error in the inning, this one by Ed Rogers on Luis Rivas' soft grounder, scored Snyder and put the tying runs on board. In his second at-bat of the inning, Francisco reached on an infield single to score Mulhern and bring the Bisons to within 14-13.
Luna then came inches away from winning the game. His deep drive to right-center would've scored both Rivas and Francisco had it not hopped over the outfield wall for a ground-rule double. While that forced Francisco back to third base, it only delayed the inevitable.
Inglett was intentionally walked to load the bases. Rose then watched a full-count pitch sail outside, allowing Francisco to score only moments before he was mobbed by his teammates at first.
The eight-run comeback ties the Modern Era record set August 19, 2000 against Ottawa (9-8 Bisons win) and doubles the largest ninth inning rally in Dunn Tire Park history (four-run comeback on August 8, 2006 vs. Ottawa).
The amazing rally reversed what would've been a difficult loss for Buffalo. Pawtucket already had a 3-0 lead heading into action Saturday, as the game was the completion of a suspended game from April 23. The PawSox scored five runs in the first three innings to build an 8-5 lead and six more over the final two frames.
Buffalo pitchers walked 12 batters in the game. Two of those belonged to infielder Trent Durrington (1-0), who became the first Bisons position player to earn a victory since Chris Coste (September 1, 2002).
Buffalo scored their first five runs of the game in the third inning, due in large part to a two-run double from Mike Rose. The catcher hit a third double in the fifth inning to score the Bisons' sixth run.
BISONS NOTES: The Bisons sent 13 batters to the plate in the ninth inning...Ben Francisco walked, singled and scored two runs in the ninth, including the game-winning run...Mike Rose finished the game 3-3 with three doubles, a walk, and five RBI...The ninth inning contained five hits, three walks, a hit batter, and three Pawtucket fielding errors...Ryan Mulhern hit his team-leading sixth home run in the Bisons third...Of the six pitchers used by Buffalo, Nick Pesco and James Deters made their Triple-A debuts-herd-