ALLENTOWN, Pa. – The Lehigh Valley IronPigs (31-14) packed a punch on Wednesday night. Their bullpen was not bad, either.
The Pig scored half of their ten runs on three home runs, as they powered past the Indianapolis Indians (24-20) for a 10-6 win at Coca-Cola Park. After a shaky outing from starting pitcher Mark Appel, the Pigs’ bullpen fired 6 1/3 no-hit innings.
Indy actually held the early upper hand on Wednesday, scoring three runs in the top of the first.
Appel had trouble finding the strike zone all night long, starting with a pair of free passes to begin the ballgame. Max Moroff quickly made him pay, ripping a two-run double. After an Elias Diaz single put runners on the corners, Phil Gosselin then made it a 3-0 Tribe lead with a RBI groundout.
Roman Quinn would answer for the IronPigs in their half of the first, hitting a solo shot off of Indianapolis starter Drew Hutchison.
The Indians would go back to work on Appel in the second, plating a fourth run. The run came on a solo homer of their own, as Chris Bostick took Appel deep to left to make it 4-1.
Wednesday’s back-and-forth contest continued in Lehigh Valley’s half of the second, as the Pigs used another long ball to score another run. This time it was Rhys Hoskins homering, his league-leading thirteenth of the season. Moroff still sits in a tie for second in the International League with twelve.
Indianapolis would chase Appel in the third, as the right-hander imploded. A one-out Jason Rogers single sandwiched two outs, but Appel fell apart just one out away from ending the inning. Four consecutive walks resulted in two Indians runs, including a five-pitch walk to Hutchison, and forced the IronPigs to call on their bullpen.
Appel turned in a final line of six runs allowed on four hits and six walks in a season-low 2 2/3 innings pitched. He set a season high in walks and tied a high mark in runs allowed, as the righty’s ERA ballooned to 7.59.
A 6-2 deficit proved to be no problem for the IronPigs, though, as the home team rattled off the game’s next eight runs.
It started in the bottom of the third, as a pickoff error from Hutchison hurt Indy’s starter. J.P. Crawford followed with a run-producing groundout, making it 6-3. Then in the fourth, pinch hitter Nick Williams delivered a tough blow. A hit by pitch and a walk gave Williams the chance to tie the game with one swing of the bat and he did just that, smoking a three-run blast to left center off of Hutchison.
Hutchison did not return to pitch in the fifth, leaving him with a final line of six runs allowed (five earned) on four hits and two walks. Four innings of work marked a season low for the right-hander.
The Tribe’s pen did not stand a chance at holding down Lehigh Valley’s offense, as the home team pushed across four more runs on the night.
Dovydas Neverauskas gave it a shot, but the IronPigs grabbed a 8-6 lead with a two-run sixth. Back-to-back doubles to open the frame gave the Pigs their first lead and a Jorge Flores sacrifice fly later in the inning made it a two-run cushion.
Then in the eighth, Lehigh Valley tacked on two more against Indy reliever Brett McKinney. Three hits did the trick, with Cameron Perkins‘ two-run double taking us to our final score of 10-6.
The Pigs’ bullpen did a masterful job in relief of Appel, with four relievers combining to toss 6 1/3 innings of hitless ball. The Tribe only managed to draw two walks against the pitching after having so much success versus Lehigh Valley’s starter.
Indianapolis would look to avoid the sweep in Thursday’s series finale. Clay Holmes (2-1, 3.08 ERA) gets the ball in the 7:05 p.m. contest.