Pereira HR, pesky ABs lead to SWB's first walk-off win

MOOSIC — If the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders were going to lose Wednesday afternoon, it wouldn’t have been because they weren’t given plenty of chances.

When it mattered most in the ninth inning, though, they created their own.

Everson Pereira clubbed a game-ending, two-run home run to right-center field, and strong at-bats from Brandon Lockridge and Caleb Durbin that preceded it helped the RailRiders secure a 5-3 win over Rochester at PNC Field.

“Always a walk-off, especially when it’s a homer, is a big moment,” Pereira said. “Especially with this team, this season, it has been a little different.”

The RailRiders overcame plenty of obstacles Wednesday. They worked 10 walks through the first eight innings, but only one of them came around to score. They also watched as Red Wings slugger James Wood — the No. 2 prospect in the Washington Nationals system, according to — laced two homers, including a go-ahead shot in the top of the seventh against reliever Cody Morris.

But with one out in the bottom of the ninth, the RailRiders staged their most stirring rally of the season in front of 5,927 fans, mostly area schoolchildren spending the day at the ballpark.

It started when Brandon Lockridge staged a bit of a comeback of his own.

The RailRiders’ No. 9 hitter fell behind 0-2 against hard-throwing Red Wings right-hander Amos Willingham before leveling the count and lining the sixth pitch of the at-bat to right for a single.

“It could have been easy for him to fold right there, and then we’ve got two outs and nobody on,” RailRiders manager Shelley Duncan said. “But Lock gets on right there, and we have the fastest guy in the league (on base). That puts a lot of pressure on the pitcher to make some pitches, and be quick to the plate. That’s when mistakes happen a lot.”

It took a while for Willingham to make a big mistake from there, though.

Luckily for the RailRiders, Durbin waited long enough to take advantage of one.

The pesky leadoff man who extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a sharp single to right-center in the RailRiders’ two-run third inning, fouled off six pitches, spoiling several cutters and a slider, all while Lockridge occupied some attention at first.

Willingham attempted two pickoffs unsuccessfully, so when the 10th pitch of the at-bat came plateward, Lockridge got a running start from first as soon as the right-hander’s front foot rose from the dirt on the mound. Finally, after seventh two-strike pitch he saw, Durbin got a cutter and hit it on a line to left, over the head of Darren Baker and off the bottom of the wall and Lockridge scored, barely beating shortstop Jackson Cluff’s throw to the plate to tie the game.

“I think the more pitches I was seeing, the more comfortable I was getting,” Durbin said, “I spit on a couple good pitches down that he made, so that brought me a lot of confidence that I could see the ball well up, for a strike.

“It just keeps my job simple with Pereira on deck. Keep the line moving.”

After he took a mighty cut through Willingham’s 1-0 four-seamer, Pereira’s goal was clear: Drive a ball deep enough to bring Durbin home with the winner.

Willingham tried to push another heater past him, but couldn’t. Pereira drove the 96 mph offering to right-center, and he knew he had done his job, that the RailRiders were going to celebrate a victory no matter where it landed. It happened to be on the grass berm over the wall, giving him his ninth homer of the year.

“I just tried to make contact,” Pereira said. “Fly ball, we got one out, get a score and we win. But the ball traveled. That was a good one.”

Thursday’s game

RailRiders (24-10) vs. Rochester (16-15), 6:35 p.m., PNC Field

Pitching probables: RailRiders LHP Tanner Tully (0-2, 4.60) vs. Red Wings RHP Thaddeus Ward (1-1, 4.24)

Off the Rails

* The Yankees announced Thursday morning that reliever Tommy Kahnle began a rehab assignment with Single-A Tampa. Kahnle opened the season on the Yankees injured list with a shoulder injury.

* Former Yankees OF Joey Gallo made his second rehab appearance with Rochester on Wednesday afternoon, starting at first base and going 0 for 4 with three strikeouts. He reached on a throwing error by 1B Carlos Narvaez in the third.

* Wood’s third-inning homer was the first allowed this season by Beeter.

* Lefty reliever Oddanier Mosqueda has allowed just two runs over his last 17 innings in his last 13 appearances after retiring all four batters he faced Wednesday.