by Mike Potter
Of course that’s par for the course for a team that’s made the playoffs 12 times in its 16 seasons in the league.
Tonight is Game 3 of a four-game set with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, erm, RailRiders. The former Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees and Empire State Yankees are managed by Dave Miley, who will get a well-deserved induction into the International League Hall of Fame in June.
Nathan Karns (2-2, 8.02) will go for the Bulls against Alfredo Aceves, who is in his first start for the RailRiders this season.
And those starters are long forgotten by the time the game ends. The teams combine for 30 hits and 33 strikeouts — 18 of them by Bulls’ pitching — as the RailRiders win 10-8 in 13 innings.
The Bulls score twice in the first. Mike Fontenot draws a leadoff walk and advances on singles from Justin Christian and Vince Belnome and scores on a passed ball. Cole Figueroa’s fly ball to left scores Christian.
The visitors get on the board in the second as Jose Pirela leads off with a double to left and scores on Ramon Flores’ one-out grounder to second.
And the RailRiders put together a four-run, four-hit fourth. Zolio Almonte starts it with a first-pitch homer to left center, with doubles from Adonis Garcia and Francisco Arcia the other key knocks.
But the Bulls recover with a huge rally in the fifth. Fontenot and Christian lead off with back-to-back singles before the floodgates open with one out. Center fielder Garcia muffs Wilson Betemit’s easy fly ball to allow the first run to score. Figueroa later greets Yoshinori Tateyama with a two-run triple to right, followed by another triple to right from Mikie Mahtook.
The visitors take the lead again in the sixth on Almonte’s two-out, two-run single off Jeff Beliveau.
And they tack on another in the eighth as Almonte scores Flores on a two-out double.
In the ninth, Christian hits a one-out single to right and scores when Betemit deposits a two-out first pitch into the right-field stands.
Zelous Wheeler leads off the 13th by launching a 1-0 pitch from Steve Geltz off the pitch speed sign in left center. Dean Anna follows with a single to right and scores on a two-out single from former Bull Russ Canzler that chases Geltz and brings on Robby Price.
Ali Solis gets the Bulls’ only hit in the bottom of the frame.
They said it …
Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo: “I’ve got to give credit for my team for battling back. We’re going to battle all the time, and we never quit. We had a good offensive game. After you score eight runs it’s tough to get nine and 10. The night took a sour note when (Mahtook) got hit (by a pitch to the helmet in the 10th). Hopefully he’s OK, but we’re getting him X-rays.”
Figueroa: “You’d like them to be shorter than 13, but sometimes it happens. It’s always tougher on the losing end, especially when there’s an 11 o’clock game the best day. We had some good hits when we needed them, and unfortunately we had some chances when we didn’t get it done.”
Christian: “I had some good at-bats and some bad at-bats (going 3-for-7), and that’s about all I can say about it. We’ll just show and go tomorrow, play and hope we win.”
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Wheeler’s extra-inning homer.
Bulls lead 2-1.
Bulls: Lost 1.
SWB: Won 1.
Bulls (Matt Andriese 1-2, 3.81) vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Shane Greene 0-0, 6.75), Tuesday, 11:05 a.m.