The IronPigs (80-62) held off a late rally to preserve a 4-3 win over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (86-55) and clinch the International League's Wild Card Spot before a sellout crowd of 10,100 at Coca-Cola Park Monday afternoon.
The Pigs took an early 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, primarily off the bat of Pigs shortstop J.P. Crawford. Scott Kingery would lead off the game with a walk before swiping second base to advance to scoring position. Crawford then stepped up to the plate an unloaded on an 0-1 pitch, sending it 415 feet over the right-center field wall to give the Pigs an early 2-0 advantage. Dylan Cozens tacked on the Pigs third run of the frame with an infield check swing RBI single to score Christian Marrero.
Marrero returned the favor in the bottom of the second inning, extending the Pigs lead to 4-0 with an RBI groundout to plate Kingery.
After issuing a run in the seventh on a Tyler Austin solo home run, the Pigs held a 4-1 advantage heading into the top of the eighth inning. Manager Dusty Wathan turned to southpaw Cesar Ramos for the eighth, and the leftie found himself in trouble early.
Francisco Diaz sent a RBI double to center field, scoring Jonathan Diaz to trim the Pigs lead to 4-2. Ramos then surrendered another base hit to Jake Cave, putting the tying run aboard. Billy McKinney flew out to center field, and Francisco Diaz tagged to third to have runners on the corners with just one out. The left-handed reliever then settled down and struck out the final two batters of the frame to preserve the 4-2 lead.
Pedro Beato came on to toss the final inning for the Pigs with a 4-2 lead in hand. The Pigs single-season saves leader surrendered a leadoff home run to Tyler Austin to trim the Pigs lead to 4-3. He then surrendered base hits to Cito Culver and Jonathan Diaz before walking Francisco Diaz to load the bases with just one out.
Beato then settled into a groove, striking out Jake Cave and induced a game-ending groundout by Billy McKinney to Kingery, who threw on to Brock Stassi to record the final out and send the Pigs to the International League playoffs.
Pigs starter Henderson Alvarez tossed seven innings, surredendering just one run on five hits while striking out three. The right-hander made just one mistake, giving up a solo home run to Austin in the top of the seventh, but recorded his second win as an IronPig.
The Pigs now begin a best-of-five series against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders beginning Wednesday Sept., 6 at Coca-Cola Park. Both teams had yet to announce their starters for the opening game. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. The first 5,000 fans will receive Rally Towels courtesy of Service Electric.
Single-game playoff tickets and playoff packs are on sale now by clicking here, by calling 610-841-PIGS (7447) or in-person at the Coca-Cola Park ticket office during normal business hours (Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.). Groups interesting in booking hospitality areas for playoff games are encouraged to call 610-841-PIGS (7447) to inquire about availability.
With the win, the Pigs will host home playoff games as listed below:
Round One: IL Divisional Series
Home Game 1: Wednesday, Sept. 6, at 7:05 p.m.
Rally Towels to the first 5,000 fans courtesy of Service Electric
Home Game 2: Thursday, Sept. 7, at 7:05 p.m.
Happy Hour Thursday with $1 hot dogs and drink specials from 5-7pm
Round Two: IL Championship Series (Governors' Cup) - should the Pigs win the Division Series:
Home Game 3: Thursday, Sept 14, at 7:05pm
Home Game 4: Friday, Sept 15, at 7:05pm
Home Game 5: Saturday, Sept 16, at 6:35pm
The 2017 IronPigs baseball season is presented by Capital BlueCross. The IronPigs playoffs are presented by Provident Bank.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.