The IronPigs (41-19) held on for a 3-2 victory over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (33-24) Thursday night at Coca-Cola Park before 7,548 fans.
After Jorge Alfaro grounded out to RailRiders shortstop Tyler Wade, Dylan Cozens walked and Michael Marriot pinch ran for the outfielder to begin the Pigs rally in the bottom of the eighth. Rhys Hoskins then singled to left, moving Marriot into scoring position at second for right fielder Nick Williams. Williams then laced an RBI single to center, scoring Marriot to give the Pigs a 2-1 advantage and more importantly moving Hoskins to third base with one out. The Pigs then got a much needed insurance run as Taylor Featherston sent a sacrifice fly to center field scoring Hoskins to give the Pigs a 3-1 edge heading into the top of the ninth.
International League saves leader Pedro Beato came on to try to preserve the Pigs victory. Donovan Solano led off the inning with a base hit to right field and was advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by RailRiders catcher Eddy Rodriguez. Wade then plated Solano with a one-out RBI double to bring the RailRiders within a run and had the tying run in scoring position. Wade would then advance to third on a Dustin Fowler ground out to third to put the tying runner 90 feet away before Greg Bird walked to put the go-ahead runner on base for the RailRiders.
Beato then induce a ground ball by Tyler Austin to Pigs shortstop J.P. Crawford who fielded the grounder and fired the ball across the diamond to Hoskins to record the final out and preserve the Pigs 3-2 victory giving Beato his 18th save of the season.
The Pigs fell behind early as the RailRiders scored the game's first run in the top of the second inning as Mason Williams roped an RBI double to left-center field, scoring Gelyber Torres who singled to begin the frame.
Pigs starter Mark Appel tossed six innings, surrendering just one earned run on six hits while walking five and fanning four in a no decision.
Appel and his defense kept the Pigs in the game before they had a chance to tie the game.
After surrendering the run in the second, the right-hander stranded two runners in scoring position in the third, fifth and sixth innings to keep the game tied at the time.
The Pigs tied the game at 1 in the bottom half of the fifth inning as Brock Stassi came around to score when J.P. Crawford bounced a fielder's choice to first base. RailRiders first baseman Greg Bird misplayed it then threw the ball to RailRiders starter Brady Lail who was ruled off first base on the throw and Crawford was safe, tying the game at 1.
Stassi then proved to have the play of the game defensively for the Pigs in the top of the sixth inning. With Mason Williams on second, Donovan Salano sent a single to left field. Stassi fielded the ground ball and came up firing as he threw home and Pigs catcher Jorge Alfaro applied the tag to throw out Williams at second base to keep the score tied at 1.
Pat Venditte then relieved Appel to start the seventh inning for the Pigs and retired the side in order in the seventh before issuing a one-out single to Clint Frazier in the top of the eight. Venditte then retired the next two batters in Torres and Williams to end any potential threat. The switch-pitcher tossed two innings, allowing just the one hit by Frazier while striking out a batter and picking up his sixth win of the season, tying him for the International League lead in wins.
The win gives the Pigs a franchise-best 6.5 game lead in the International League Northern Division of the Railriders, the team's previous franchise-high division lead was a 6.0 game lead on June 11 and 12 of 2011.
The series continues with game two of the four-game set with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders Friday night at Coca-Cola Park. It is Friday Night Fireworks presented by Coors Light as fans will enjoy postgame fireworks to the music of Kenny Rogers. The Pigs will send right-hander Jake Thompson (2-5, 5.73) and the RailRiders will counter with right-hander Luis Cessa (2-6, 4.42). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
The 2017 Season is the IronPigs 10th Anniversary season at Coca-Cola Park and 10th as the top affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. The IronPigs are debuting the brand-new Bacon, USA, Membership Program this season -- a year-round IronPigs experience pass featuring numerous new amenities such as savings on parking at games and at the Majestic Clubhouse Store at Coca-Cola Park, on-field VIP access to watch batting practice, access to an annual holiday party, an invitation to an exclusive player and coaches photo session and more. For more information, visit ironpigsbaseball.com or call (610) 841-PIGS (7447). Memberships and group outings are on sale now.
The 2017 IronPigs baseball season is presented by Capital BlueCross.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.