Navarro, Diaz Help RailRiders Stun Pawtucket
MOOSIC — Down to their last strike, it looked like the RailRiders were headed back below .500.
Enter Rey Navarro and Francisco Diaz.
Navarro cracked a two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game, then Francisco Diaz singled in the winning run in the bottom of the 10th as the RailRiders stunned Pawtucket, 7-6, at a toasty PNC Field on Saturday night.
The RailRiders (40-39) are above .500 for the first time since April 25, when they were 10-9.
SWB led, 4-1, in the fifth inning but Pawtucket rallied for three runs in the sixth and two in the seventh to take a 6-4 lead.
Pawtucket reliever Kyle Martin struck out Billy McKinney to start the ninth, but Ryan McBroom followed with a single to reach base for the fourth time and bring the tying run to the plate. Pinch hitter Mark Payton struck out, putting the RailRiders’ fate in Navarro’s hands.
Good thing he’s the team’s hottest hitter.
Navarro launched Martin’s 2-2 pitch just over the wall in right to tie the game at 6-6.
“I knew that I hit the ball pretty well,” Navarro said.
“I just was praying like, ‘C’mon ball. Go!’”
It was the switch-hitting Navarro’s fourth hit of the night and made him 12 for his last 24, with two doubles and two homers.
“My previous four at-bats, I had three hits,” he said. “Even though that was from the right side, I felt a lot of confidence. I didn’t have nothing to lose. I just had that kind of confidence in my mind.”
Pawtucket bunted its free runner over to third to start the top of the 10th, but J.P. Feyereisen, working in his third inning, managed to escape the jam. He walked No. 9 hitter Deiner Lopez, then got Rusney Castillo to ground into his third double play of the night, setting the RailRiders up for a walkoff.
L.J. Mazzilli got the sacrifice bunt down to start the bottom of the inning, bringing up Diaz, who already had two hits in the game. Diaz fell behind Pawtucket closer Ryan Brasier, 1-2, in the count, then lined a single to center to score Bruce Caldwell and win the game.
“After something like that (Navarro homer) happens, we have to win,” Diaz said. “That’s a big emotion. Everyone’s on it.”
The RailRiders grabbed an early, 2-0 lead in the first inning with doubles by Billy McKinney and Navarro and a sacrifice fly by McBroom.
Pawtucket cut it in half in the third, scoring a run against RailRiders starter on one of Castillo’s double-play balls.
The RailRiders stretched it to 4-1 in the fifth, thanks to a towering solo homer by McBroom, a double by Zehner and a single by Navarro. But Pawtucket roared back the next inning.
Mike Ohlman homered off Rogers to start the sixth — one of two homers on the night and one of four homers against the RailRiders this season for Ohlman — then Mike Olt doubled and Sam Travis walked, forcing the SWB to go to the bulllpen.
Rogers allowed four runs on seven hits in five innings, walked three and struck out two, though two of the runs came across with him out of the game.
Raynel Espinal, who had stranded 13 of 16 inherited base runners heading into Saturday, walked a batter to load the bases then gave up a single to former RailRider Ramon Flores to cut it to 4-3. Mike Miller followed with a sacrifice fly to tied it up.
Pawtucket went ahead for the first time in the seventh, when Ohlman launched an opposite-field, two-run homer off rehabbing big leaguer A.J. Cole. Cole worked out of the inning without any further damage, then turned it over to Feyereisen with a runner on and two outs in the eighth.
Feyereisen worked into and out of trouble in the ninth, then stranded the go-ahead run at third in the 10th.
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