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Abiatal Avelino with a big base hit for the Charleston Ri[verDogs in a minor league spring training game at the Yankees Player Development and Scouting Complex in Tampa, Florida. (Robert M. Pimpsner/Pinstriped Prospects)

Avelino Walks Off RailRiders to Thrilling Opening Day Victory

The Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders home opener was in doubt due to the winter-like weather sweeping the northeast but they were lucky enough to have a clear, cool night. Their luck would continue in a big way thanks to a walk-off home run by Abiatal Avelino in the 6-5 victory.

The RailRiders struggled to get anything going in the game until the ninth inning. Down 5-1, a Cody Asche double followed by two walks loaded the bases. A sacrifice fly and Zack Zehner single cut the lead to 5-3. That brought up Avelino as the winning run.

On a 3-2 pitch with two outs, Avelino got some lift on the fastball as it soared over the right-field scoreboard to give Scranton Wilkes-Barre some fireworks on their opening night.

“I’m so happy,” Avelino said. “I put in my mind, okay Avelino you are the man for the moment so be ready, be ready, be ready.”

The RailRiders were shut down early on by an excellent performance by the Syracuse right-hander Austin Voth. He threw five innings, giving up one run with six strikeouts. Additionally, top Yankees prospect Chance Adams did not have his best night in the loss.

Adams had trouble getting the final out of every inning. He would quickly get two outs and the damage would ensue from there. He had trouble locating his fastball, often missing high. However, his slider was on point for him. He struck out five batters over 3.2 innings with it. He also gave up five runs (four earned) with two walks.

“I thought all of our pitchers, including Chance, pitched well,” RailRiders’ manager Bobby Mitchell said. Chance gave up one bad pitch and gave up a three-run homer.”

The first scoring was underway in the second inning. After two singles by the Chiefs’ Adrian Sanchez and Spencer Kieboom, Irving Falu squared up a ball and pulled it over the head of right fielder Ryan McBroom. The double scored Kieboom for the first run of the game giving the Chiefs and early 1-0 lead.

After striking out top prospect Victor Robles, Adams served up a three-run home run to outfielder Andrew Stephenson. A towering shot over the right-field wall, broadening the Syracuse lead to 4-0 after the top of the second inning.

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Adams’ slider was still looking strong to start the fourth inning. He struck out the first two batters of the inning on embarrassing swings. Shortly after the strikeouts, he gave up two singles giving the Chiefs’ a first and third situation. The runner on first then took off to second and catcher Kyle Higashioka threw the ball on a hop which got away from Torres. That brought the Chiefs to a 5-0 lead and ended Adams’ day.

“I’m just going to try to come out next time and try to attack hitters earlier in the count and try not to work so many deep counts so I can get deeper into the game,” Adams said.

The RailRiders would open their scoring on the season in the bottom of the fourth inning when Higashioka atoned for his error with his first home run of the season. He crushed a fastball over the left field fence into the visitors’ bullpen. That cut the Syracuse lead to 5-1.

“[Hitting the home run] felt great, really good,” Higashioka said. “It’s always good to start off on a good note. Especially since we won the game it makes it extremely positive.”

The game would stay quiet from then on to the ninth inning when Avelino delivered the walk-off home run. The win was credited to JP Feyereisen who threw a scoreless ninth inning with one strikeout.

Game Notes:

  • Jace Peterson picked up the first SWB hit of the season with a single to left field in the third inning
  • Cody Asche picked up a double in his first game with the Yankees organization in his final at bat.
  • Raynel Espinal, Oliver Perez, Cale Coshow, and JP Feyereisen combined for 5.1 innings out of the bullpen and did not allow a run while striking out a combined three batters.

Up Next:

The RailRiders will take on the Chiefs in the second game of the season and series. For SWB, Luis Cessa makes his first start of the year against Tommy Milone for Syracuse. The game starts at 4:05 pm at PNC Field.

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