Scran­ton come­back sets up playoffs

Down 7, RailRiders win ex­tra game, now must face Durham

The Morning Call - - SPORTS - By Mike Har­ring­ton

It took an ex­tra day but the In­ter­na­tional League reg­u­lar sea­son ended Tues­day — with one of the most in­cred­i­ble games in league his­tory.

The Buf­falo Bisons fell short of their quest for the North Di­vi­sion ti­tle, but their win in the sea­son fi­nale Mon­day at Scran­ton/ Wilkes-Barre dropped the RailRiders into a tie with Syra­cuse and forced a one-game play­off Tues­day be­tween the Yan­kees and Mets af­fil­i­ates at PNC Field in Moosic.

Nearly 3½ hours and 27 runs later, that show­down ended with Scran­ton roar­ing back from seven runs down to pull out a 14-13 vic­tory.

Syra­cuse fin­ished the sea­son 18-7 in its fi­nal 25 games and looked golden in the tiebreaker game af­ter a five-run first pro­pelled the Mets to a 7-1 lead af­ter the sev­enth-in­ning stretch.

Back came Scran­ton with five in the bot­tom of the sev­enth to make it 7-6. Back came Syra­cuse with a huge re­sponse, six runs in the top of the eighth to seem­ingly put the game away at 13-6.

But wait. Scran­ton had the big­gest answer yet with eight runs in the bot­tom of the eighth to take the lead and a 1-2-3 ninth to se­cure the mind-bog­gling vic­tory. Scran­ton had no hits in the game’s first three in­nings — but scored 13 runs in its fi­nal two at-bats. Catcher Kyle Hi­gash­ioka home­red in both the sev­enth and eighth in­nings and for­mer Phillie Erik Kratz had the game-win­ning hit with an RBI dou­ble in the eighth.

“The guys started hav­ing good at-bats and we got some big hits and walked quite a few times, and next thing you know we were back into it,” Scran­ton man­ager and for­mer Pi­rates short­stop Jay Bell told MILB.com.

So the fi­nal IL stand­ings show Scran­ton at 76-65 and Syra­cuse at 75-66. The best-of­five play­off semi­fi­nals be­gin Wed­nes­day, with Scran­ton play­ing at wild-card win­ner Durham and South Di­vi­sion champ Gwin­nett host­ing West Di­vi­sion win­ner Colum­bus.

(Game 2 be­tween Durham and Scran­ton sched­uled for Thurs­day seems in se­ri­ous doubt due to the im­pacts of Hur­ri­cane Do­rian on the Caroli­nas).

In the Pa­cific Coast League, Las Ve­gas meets Sacra­mento in one semi­fi­nal while Iowa and Round Rock play in the other. Las Ve­gas is man­aged by Fran Rior­dan, who was named the league’s man­ager of the year af­ter lead­ing the Avi­a­tors to an 83-57 record.

Semi­fi­nal win­ners ad­vance to the best-of-five cham­pi­onships se­ries in each league. The IL and PCL cham­pi­ons meet in the Triple-A Na­tional Cham­pi­onship Game Sept. 17 in Mem­phis.

DANIEL SHIREY/GETTY

For­mer Phillie Erik Kratz, play­ing for the Giants in April, had the game-win­ning hit for the RailRiders in their 14-13 vic­tory Tues­day.

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