PawSox Hold 1.5 Game Lead for the Wild Card with Four Games to Play

PawSox news release…

(Allentown, PA) – Pawtucket batted around and scored four runs in the seventh inning to snap a 4-4 tie while its pitching staff allowed 15 hits but stranded 14 men on base as the PawSox defeated the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, 8-5, Thursday night at Coca-Cola Park to earn a split in the two-game series. 

In a game that featured 42 baserunners (28 hits and 14 walks) and 30 strikeouts and lasted 3 hours and 52 minutes, Pawtucket used a pair of four-run innings – the second and the seventh – to do all of its scoring.  Blake Swihart and Justin Henry each recorded RBI hits during the decisive seventh inning.

With the win, Pawtucket (77-63) remained 1.5 games ahead of Buffalo in the IL wildcard standings with four games remaining, as the Bisons won at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, 11-3.  The squad also moved to within 2.5 games of first-place Syracuse in the North Division, as the Chiefs fell at home to Rochester, 6-3.  The Red Wings remained 2.0 games behind Pawtucket.

Phillippe Aumont (3-3) entered to start the seventh and faced six batters, retiring only one and allowing four runs on three hits and two walks.  Aumont’s wild pitch brought home Bryce Brentz with the go-ahead run, then Swihart’s infield RBI single made the score 6-4.

Henry grounded his two-run single against Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez to score Deven Marrero and Swihart and cap the four-run rally.  The PawSox also plated four in the second against Lehigh Valley starter Jeff Manship, highlighted by Jackie Bradley, Jr.’s two-run single.

Spot-starter Ryan Verdugo allowed three runs in 4.2 innings of work for Pawtucket but struck out a season-high eight batters.  Chris Hernandez (5-8), who entered in the fifth, allowed two runs and four hits in 1.1 innings pitched and was credited with the win. 

Drake Britton (1.2 innings, four hits) and Heath Hembree (1.1 innings, three strikeouts) finished the win by working the final three innings and not allowing a run.  Hembree earned his second save with the PawSox.

Five Lehigh Valley pitchers combined for 17 strikeouts, with Manship (3.1 innings) and Gonzalez (1.2 innings) each recording five.  Henry went 3-for-5 with three RBI to pace Pawtucket’s 13-hit attack, while Cesar Hernandez had four of Lehigh Valley’s 15 knocks.

Pawtucket next returns to McCoy Stadium for a four-game homestand that will finish the regular season.  The stand begins Friday night with the opener of a crucial two-game series against Syracuse. The PawSox are slated to start right-hander Brandon Workman (6-1, 4.45) while Syracuse will counter with righty Scott McGregor (1-1, 3.79).  Radio coverage on 920 AM (WHJJ) and also streaming online begins at 6:50 pm.