(bisons.com) - Time and again throughout the season, the big inning has doomed the Herd in its quest to rack up wins. When an opponent finds a way to score more than just a few runs in an inning, it can turn the tide of the game quickly and abruptly - making a potential comeback seem daunting.
Wednesday night, the Bisons were yet again on the wrong end of an opponent's one-inning outburst. Trailing 1-0 entering the 4th, Lehigh Valley used a four-run inning as a spark, despite the Herd's best efforts at keeping the IronPigs offensive attack at bay for most of the night. Lehigh Valley was not able to push a run across in any other inning, but the big inning was all it took for the IronPigs to notch a 4-1 victory. With the win, Lehigh Valley evens the four-game set at a game apiece.
"It (the big inning) has been a problem all year," Bisons manager Wally Backman said. "The one inning. (Bisons starting pitcher Chris) Schwinden pitched good...I thought all the pitchers pitched pretty well. Just that one inning."
For Lehigh Valley, the big 4th started right away, with Pete Orr ripping an 0-2 pitch into center field for a leadoff single. Orr is a speedster - coming into the night with 15 stolen bases on the year - and wasted no time heading home when Jake Fox blasted a double to the left-field wall on a hop. Fox's RBI tied the game at 1.
The IronPigs weren't done, by any stretch. Two batters later, Cesar Hernandez sent a grounder toward Bisons 1B Adam Loewen that squirted into the outfield, sending Fox home. Lehigh Valley starting pitcher Jonathan Pettibone even got in on the action later in the frame, lifting a 2-2 offering off to shallow left field off Schwinden - bringing another run home to give the IronPigs a 3-1 edge.
When it was all said and done, Lehigh Valley sent ten batters to the plate in the pivotal 4th - including two at-bats by Orr, who grounded out to first with the bases loaded to finally end the inning. The IronPigs wouldn't score again, but didn't need to.
That's because Lehigh Valley pitchers were able to avoid trouble the rest of the way, despite the Herd's ability to get runners on base throughout the game (Buffalo had seven hits on the night). Catcher Mike Nickeas did his part to provide an offensive spark - singling with one out in the 5th, and then doubling with two outs in the 7th - but his teammates stranded him on both occasions.
Nickeas has performed well in Buffalo this year, and Wednesday night proved no exception.
"He brings some leadership," Backman said. "He's a real good catch-and-throw guy, he's got some big-league experience...Since he's been here, he's made some adjustments, he's changed just a few things with (hitting coach) George (Greer). Knock on wood, he's swung the bat well."
The Herd was given another promising opportunity late in the game, with IronPigs reliever Jake Diekman issuing consecutive two-out walks in the 8th to give Buffalo some life. But it was not meant to be, and Loewen grounded out to short to retire the side.
IronPigs closer Phillippe Aumont closed the deal in the 9th, retiring the Bisons side in order to end the game.