A double to deep center field by Andy LaRoche in the bottom of the 11th drove home Josh Thole and gave the Buffalo Bisons a 4-3 win over the Louisville Bats in front of 10,249 at Coca-Cola Field Friday night.
After Luis Jimenez struck out, Mauro Gomez drew a walk and Josh Thole singled to set up LaRoche’s game-winning hit.
Louisville reliever Mike MacDougal “threw me a couple good pitches,” said LaRoche. I was trying to stay short with it and he threw right down the middle and good thing I connected on it.”
While the number of runners left on base was frustrating for Bisons batters, there were also good at-bats to put players in scoring position in the first place.
“Absolutely [it’s frustrating] but you try not to think about what’s happened in the innings prior,” LaRoche said. “You just worry about the next pitch and the next at-bat that you’re going to have. Our guys battled up there. A lot of guys were fighting and having great at-bats all game. Obviously Gomez and Thole having those at-bats before me are what led up to it. If they don’t have those quality at-bats then we’re still out there playing probably.”
The Bisons had the bases loaded in the eighth and ninth inning with the score tied, 3-3, but failed to find a way to score a run.
In the eighth inning, Louisville took its first lead of the game. With one out and runners on second and third, a wild pitch from reliever Alex Hinshaw bounced and went off Thole’s shin pad. Felix Perez bolted for home as Thole scrambled after the ball and tossed it back to Hinshaw, who was covering the plate. Perez was safe and Hinshaw argued the call enough to earn an ejection from home plate umpire Will Little.
The Bisons tied the game in the bottom of the inning when Mauro Gomez led off with a single and Thole drew a walk. A single by Andy LaRoche scored Gomez to tie the game and an intentional walk to Ryan Langerhans loaded the bases with no outs. But Mike McCoy, Jim Negrych and Anthony Gose all struck out to send the game tied, 3-3, into the ninth.
The Herd loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth but Langerhans struck out sending the game to extra innings.
The Bisons had plenty of base runners and scoring opportunities but failed to get timely hits in leaving 17 runners on base, 10 in scoring position with two outs, while going 3-for-19 with runners in scoring position.
It wasn’t much better for Louisville, which went 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position and left 11 runners on base.
Thole had a strong game for the Herd, with a home run and RBI single.
Thole led off the second inning driving the first pitch he saw over the right field fence for a 1-0 Buffalo lead.
Louisville threatened in the fourth when Felix Perez led off with a triple. But Edgar Gonzalez struck out Mike Hessman, got Emmanuel Burriss hit a chopper back to the mound for an easy ground out, then froze Denis Phipps to strike him out looking.
With one out in the fourth and Langerhans on first, McCoy put down a beautiful bunt down the third base side. Both runners took off when Negrych made contact, avoiding the double play and moving both into scoring position with two outs for Anthony Gose, but Gose grounded to second to end the inning. He stranded three runners in scoring position.
In the fifth, Louisville had back-to-back hits putting runners on the corners with no outs. A fielder’s choice by Billy Hamilton scored Fellhauer and tied the game, 1-1.
Neftali Soto struck out swinging for the second out. Hamilton was then caught stealing when Thole snapped a throw from behind home plate to third baseman LaRoche who just barely applied the tag in time. It was only the second time Hamilton has been caught stealing this year.
The Louisville outfielder has 16 stolen bases this season, the best in the International League.
Last year he stole 155 bases with Single-A Bakersfield and Double-A Pensacola, setting a new professional baseball single-season record.
In the bottom of the inning, the Herd got the lead back.
Moises Sierra and Luis Jimenez had back-to-back hits and Thole singled up the left field line to score Sierra from second and give the Herd a 2-1 lead.
Louisville tied the game again in the sixth when Hessman crushed a one-out solo shot into the screens in left field. The blast knotted the game, 2-2.
Hessman played 64 games with the Bisons in 2010, hitting 18 home runs for the Herd that season.
In transaction news, righty Jeremy Jeffress joined the Bisons, filling the available roster spot after the Toronto Blue Jays recalled pitcher Brad Lincoln on Thursday. Jeffress was promoted from Single-A Dunedin where he allowed just one hit over five scoreless innings in three games.
The series continues with a 1:05 start today in Coca-Cola Field (Radio 1520 AM). Righty Ramon Ortiz (1-0, 2.13 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Bisons against Louisville right-hander Pedro Villarreal (0-2, 4.23 ERA).