Wednesday morning, Dan Johnson was named an International League All Star.
Wednesday evening he showed why.
With the count full and the game in extra innings, Johnson drove a home run to right field to give the Buffalo Bisons a 1-0 win over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders in eight innings.
It was the first of two scheduled seven-inning games before a crowd of 7,269 at Coca-Cola Field.
The Herd took the nightcap, 2-1, to sweep the doubleheader.
But before getting to the second game, the Herd had to play extra innings – for the fourth time in the last five games.
“It gets old fast,” Johnson said. “Playing a whole bunch of extra innings means more at-bats and it’s more innings in the field. We’d like to get it done in nine, but if it takes longer to get a win, you get a win. It is what it is. We’ve all been through it before. Extra innings is part of the game. We just go with whatever we’ve got.”
What the Bisons had Wednesday was a good night of pitching all around.
It started with P.J. Walters in the first game, who took a no-decision after striking out nine in seven scoreless innings.
“He’s been locked in,” manager Gary Allenson said about Walters. “He’s got a nice little slider that you don’t recognize, and he pitches down in the zone and gave us a chance to win.”
Ryan Tepera took over in the eighth and immediately got into trouble, giving up back-to-back singles, putting runners on the corners with no outs.
That’s when the defense came up big, throwing runners out at the plate on back-to-back plays.
Goins charged an infield hit from Zoilo Almonte and threw home to get the runner. Francisco Arcia knocked a hit into right field, but Ryan Schimpf gunned the ball home and A.J. Jimenez applied the tag to again get the runner. A grounder fielded by Tepera ended the inning and kept the RailRiders off the board.
With one out in the bottom of the eighth, Johnson came up, worked the count and hit the winning shot. It was his 17th home run of the season as the first baseman has played in all 85 of the Herd’s games this year.
Johnson’s home-run hitting and his reliability in getting on base (he leads the league with 71 walks) is part of the reason he was elected to play in the 27th Annual Triple-A All-Star Game on July 16 at Durham Bulls Park in Durham, N.C.
Joining Johnson will be teammates Liam Hendriks and Bobby Korekcy.
Hendriks is 6-1 and leads the IL with a 0.80 WHIP and the fewest walks (0.59) and baserunners (8.61) per nine innings.
In 33 relief appearances, Korecky is 4-1 with a 0.60 ERA. He leads the Bisons with 10 saves in 11 chances
In the nightcap, the Herd took a 2-1 lead in the fourth when Mike Nickeas and Jonathan Diaz both drew bases-loaded walks.
The Herd added a run in the sixth when Nickeas scored on a wild pitch.
“It’d be nice to drive in some runs, but a win’s a win,” Allenson said.
Brett Cecil, making his second appearance on his Major League Rehabilitation assignment for a strained groin, picked up the win pitching a clean fifth inning with a strikeout and two groundouts. In two rehab outings with the Bisons Cecil has thrown 22 pitches, 15 of them for strikes.
The gates open at 4:30 for Thursday night’s 20th annual Independence Eve Celebration with first pitch scheduled for 6:05 p.m. Esmil Rogers (2-1, 3.10) gets the start for the Herd against Chris Leroux (1-2, 7.94).