Coming into Thursday night’s game, the IronPigs had gone a franchise-high 88 2/3 innings without a home run. Pawtucket starter Matt Fox also had a streak of 26 straight innings without giving up a home run, so obviously, it would be home runs that would lead Lehigh Valley to a 4-2 win in their International League semi-final series opener against Pawtucket.
IronPigs catcher Erik Kratz was the first on the launch pad when he lifted a solo home run down the left field line before Brandon Moss topped Kratz in distance with an absolute shot to right field that literally left the park in the fourth.
The scoring started in the first when Rich Thompson singled to center to lead off the game. The International League leader in stolen bases then challenged catcher Luis Exposito and stole second before Scott Podsednik bunted him to third. A ground ball to second allowed Thompson to score and gave Lehigh Valley a 1-0 lead. Kratz and Moss' home runs put the 'Pigs up 3-0 after four innings.
Sox starter Matt Fox was touched for three earned runs and exited after throwing 90 pitches over six innings.
Brandon Duckworth, who was just activated off of the DL on Tuesday, came on to open the seventh inning and easily recorded the first two outs of the inning before a home run would bite him as well. Freddy Galvis took a fastball out to right field to extend the IronPigs lead to 4-1. The home run was Galvis' first at the Triple-A level.
The night started well for Pawtucket with Che-Hsuan Lin lining a base hit up the middle and Joey Gathright popping a bunt between three fielders to put runners on first and second. Lehigh Valley starter Dave Bush got Daniel Nava to ground out to first, with both runners advancing. Lars Anderson then hit a ball back to Bush, who fired home to get Lin in a rundown, which eventually led to Gathright being called out when both he and Lin were standing on third base. Bush then worked himself out of the inning without allowing a run.
Anderson tried to get a comeback going in the sixth by taking a 3-2 pitch from Bush well over the 17-foot high fence in right to cut the IronPigs lead to 3-1. It was a short-lived comeback, with Bush coming back to get the next three hitters without any further damage.
Pawtucket added their second run of the night off reliever Phillippe Aumont in the eighth. Nava led off with a walk and stole second ahead of a one-out walk to Luna. A single by Will Middlebrooks loaded the bases and Exposito drove in a run with a ground ball to first to make it 4-2.
Bush went 6 2/3 innings, giving up just one run and striking out six hitters. Three IronPigs relievers covered the rest of the game, allowing just one earned run. Bush recorded the win and Justin DeFratus notched the save for Lehigh Valley.
Game Two of the series will be played Friday night at Coca-Cola Park. Tony Pena (9-6, 3.56) will get the start for Pawtucket, with the IronPigs countering with Ryan Edell (5-5, 3.27).