ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Win, and you’re in. The math is that simple. With a 2-1 triumph at Frontier Field on Tuesday night, the SWB RailRiders ( trimmed their magic number to one with the host and second-place Rochester Red Wings (Minnesota Twins).
The RailRiders (78-60) would become the first IL team to clinch a postseason berth with a victory against the Red Wings (72-66) on Wednesday night.
A roster ravaged by September call-ups relied on some familiar faces early. Gregorio Petit put SWB on the board with his first home run of the season, a pulled solo shot to left in the second against starter Michael Bowden.
While Bowden would rebound and retired the next 12 men in order, the RailRiders’ Kyle Davies did some dealing of his own. The team’s veteran ace tossed six innings of one-run ball, allowing just three hits and no walks in the process while whiffing five.
The lone run against Davies came in odd fashion in the fourth. Reynaldo Rodriguez led off the inning with a strikeout, but reached on a wild pitch. Josmil Pinto then singled to second. With Danny Ortiz at the plate thereafter, Rodriguez broke for third. An errant throw by catcher Juan Graterol eluded third baseman and Rochester native Cito Culver, allowing Rodriguez to score for a 1-1 draw.
In the seventh, Slade Heathcott worked a leadoff walk, took second on Petit’s groundout to the pitcher and claimed third on Culver’s single to left. With Graterol due up, Jake Cave entered as a pinch hitter for his first career Triple-A action. He bashed a sac fly to center that allowed Heathcott to score the go-ahead and game-winning run.
The lead held up thanks to the efforts of relievers Andury Acevedo, Mark Montgomery and Nick Goody. Acevedo worked around a pair of two-out baserunners in the seventh by inducing a grounder to second from big-league rehabber Aaron Hicks. Montgomery struck out two in a perfect eighth that sported a pair of IL All-Star hitters in James Beresford and Reynaldo Rodriguez. Goody recorded a strikeout in a perfect ninth for his fourth save.
With the win, Davies (10-8), became the first double-digit game winner for the RailRiders since IL All-Star Chris Bootcheck won 10 games in 2013. No RailRider has ever won 11 or more games in a season. Bowden (10-5) allowed just two runs on four hits and two walks over seven innings to take the loss. He struck out eight.
The series concludes at 7:05 p.m. on Wednesday night as the RailRiders and Red Wings face each other for the final time on the regular season. SWB is set to toss right-hander Kyle Haynes (3-1, 4.13) against southpaw Taylor Rogers (9-12, 4.19).
The RailRiders will host “Mariano Rivera Day” on Thursday, Sept. 3 against the Bisons with an appearance by the Yankees’ legendary closer himself. For more information please call (570) 969-BALL (2255) or visit swbrailriders.com.