ALLENTOWN, PA - Lehigh Valley right-fielder Jan Hernandez clubbed a walk-off three-run home run to cap a six-run bottom of the ninth inning rally as the Iron Pigs came back from an eight-run deficit to stun the Pawtucket Red Sox, 12-10, on Independence Day in the opener of a four-game series at Coca-Cola Park.
Hernandez, who collected a walk-off RBI double in the ninth inning the last time the two teams played on June 6th, drilled the first pitch he saw from reliever Jordan Weems (0-1) for a no-doubt shot (9) to win a wild game that featured 22 combined runs and 30 total hits.
Pawtucket led 10-2 after five innings, but the Pigs plated the game's final ten runs over the final four innings.
After entering the game inheriting a 10-6 advantage, Weems did not record an out in the game's final frame. Lehigh Valley collected five hits, including RBI singles by Austin Listi and Nick Williams before Hernandez' game-winning homer. A fielding error by first-baseman Sam Travis also allowed a run to score during the Iron Pigs' winning rally.
Three Lehigh Valley relievers combined to shut out Pawtucket for the final 4.1 innings, including two perfect frames from southpaw Tom Windle (7-1) in the eighth and ninth.
The dramatic comeback overshadowed a terrific night for the Pawtucket offense. After a rough offensive series earlier in the week against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in which the club scored only four total runs, the PawSox came up only one hit shy of a season-high total with 16 knocks.
On the day he was outrighted off of the MLB 40-man roster, Pawtucket catcher Oscar Hernandez went 4-for-5 at the plate including a three-run home run to pace the offensive explosion. Hernandez, who had not played in a game anywhere since June 22nd, picked up hits in each of his first four trips to the plate for his first four-hit game since 2014 with the Bowling Green Hot Rods.
Pawtucket scored all ten of its runs in the first 4.2 innings against the International League's 2018 Most Valuable Pitcher Cole Irvin. Oscar Hernandez' three-run blast to left highlighted a five-run second-inning rally that left the PawSox in front 5-1. Cole Sturgeon looped a two-run single earlier in the frame to open the scoring for the visitors. Sturgeon would collect two hits on the night and make great a fantastic leaping catch at the fence in left field to rob a potential home run from Adam Haseley in the seventh.
Leading 6-2 heading into the fifth, Pawtucket knocked Irvin from the game by scoring four more times including Jantzen Witte's solo blast to left (6). Chris Owings' two-run double capped the rally against reliever Connor Brogdon. Irvin was charged with ten earned runs on 13 hits in his worst outing as a professional.
Pawtucket starter Ryan Weber allowed just two runs in five effective innings. Reliever Tyler Thornburg continued his MLB injury rehab assignment for Boston by working the sixth and permitting a two-out, two-run home run to Mitch Walding (11). Thornburg did collect three punchouts in the inning.
Nick Williams drilled a two-run homer in the seventh against PawSox righty Domingo Tapia. Then after All-Star Dan Runzler tossed a perfect eighth, Weems took the loss in the ninth.
The PawSox will look to even the series on Friday night with newcomer Konner Wade (NR) slated to make his team debut as the starting pitcher. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 pm. Radio coverage on WHJJ (920 AM and 104.7 FM) and throughout the PawSox Radio Network begins with the pre-game show at 6:35 p.m.
Following this four-game set, the PawSox are off for the Triple-A All-Star break, then return home on June 11th. That will begin a 12-game homestand which represents the longest scheduled homestand for the PawSox in 27 years - since a 12-game homestand in 1992 (from July 29 - August 9).
Pawtucket's next homestand begins on Thursday, July 11 at 7:05 pm (live on NESN) with the opener of a 5-game series vs. Buffalo. The Sox and Bisons will play a make-up doubleheader on Friday, July 12 beginning at 4:35 pm on Jackie Bradley Jr. Gold Glove Bobblehead Night.
The teams will play single games on Saturday, July 13 at 6:15 pm (Prince & Princesses Night & Fireworks) and Sunday, July 14 at 1:05 pm (PawSox Cap Day on another Family FunDay at McCoy).
Louisville visits the following week for a 4-game series with 7:05 pm games vs. the Bats on July 15 & 16, a 6:05 pm start on July 17, and an 11:05 am morning affair on July 18. Finally, the Charlotte Knights come to town over the weekend of July 19-21 for a 3-game set highlighted by Saturday, July 20 at 6:15 pm on Alex Cora World Series Champion Bobblehead Night followed by Margaritaville post-game Fireworks.
Good tickets are available, and fans can visit the McCoy Stadium box office, which is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. through 5 p.m., and during all home games. Fans can also call (401) 724-7300 or log on to PawSox.com for tickets.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.