RailRiders can't climb out of early hole in loss to Lehigh Valley

Jun. 2—MOOSIC — Lehigh Valley put them into an early hole, and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders couldn't dig out of it.

Five of the first six Lehigh Valley batters knocked hits, leading to four runs off SWB starter Nick Green and the IronPigs held on for a 5-2 win Tuesday at PNC Field, where COVID-19 attendance restrictions were lifted for the first time.

The crowd of 2,716 was able to sit closer together as the team removed the pod seating that kept them socially distanced for May. Masks were optional, after fans previously were supposed to wear them whenever they were not actively eating or drinking at their seats.

MLB rehabber Scott Kingery, who is coming back from a concussion, started the game with a loud double to right-center field off Green. After that, Lehigh Valley took advantage off some well-placed hits.

Mickey Moniak and C.J. Chatham followed with singles, Moniak's an infield grounder against the shift and Chatham's blooper into right over second baseman Andrew Velazquez's that drove in the game's first run.

With one out, Rafael Marchan singled home a run. Former RailRider Ruben Tejada's base hit drove in another, and the fourth run scored when right fielder Trey Amburgey's throw to third bounced away.

"I don't think they hit anything hard in the first inning," RailRiders manager Doug Davis said. "It was just like man oh man, we just were not in the right spot. I give them credit because they had a good approach on Green. They knew he had a cutter, they knew the balls move away from those right-handed hitters, they were trying to go the other way. But again, they didn't really hit the ball all that hard. They just found holes and spots out there in the outfield that we just couldn't defend."

After Tejada's single, Green retired 10 of the final 14 batters he faced, striking out four. The righty with the big curveball allowed eight hits in four innings and walked four.

Lefty Cristopher Sánchez, one of the Philadelphia Phillies' top pitching prospects, started for Lehigh Valley and dominated the RailRiders hitters the first time through the lineup. He walked two of the first three hitters, but then got the next nine in a row, racking up seven strikeouts through 11 batters.

The RailRiders got to him in the fourth, however, with Amburgey and Derek Dietrich's back-to-back singles setting up Armando Alvarez's booming two-out, two-run double over Kingery's head in center field that made it 4-2.

It was Sánchez's second start of the season against SWB, though he also faced them several times during the alternate site period in April. In 6.1 innings, he's allowed seven runs on six hits with seven hits, but has also struck out 13.

They wouldn't be able to cut it any closer, despite Lehigh Valley issuing walks to all but two hitters in the RailRiders lineup. They had first and second with two outs in the seventh, but Neftali Feliz struck out Dietrich to end the jam. A two-out rally brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth, then JD Hammer got Dietrich to fly out to end it.

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