Jul. 24—MOOSIC — Five batters into Friday's game, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's Armando Alvarez gave Rochester a taste of what it could expect for the rest of the night.
Long, loud home runs.
Andrew Velazquez homered from both sides of the plate, two of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's six dingers on the night, and the RailRiders bashed Rochester, 14-5, at PNC Field. They came one blast shy of the single-game franchise record.
"The boys were kind of bopping in BP a little bit today, too, so I think you could tell the ball was carrying a little more than normal," said Velazquez, who also used his trademark speed to bunt for a single in the third inning and then stole a base. "It's typically kind of dead out there, so today, I think it played a little truer. We just got good pitches to hit and took advantage."
Alvarez cracked a three-run blast in the first inning off Rochester's southpaw starter Matt Tomshaw, who came in with 16 home runs against his ledger in 11 games, tied for third most in Triple-A East. By the time he walked off the mound Friday, he'd add four more to that total.
In the third, Donny Sands launched a towering fly toward the scoreboard in left-center field to score two more. It was Sands' fourth home run in three games at Triple-A. Add in his work at Double-A, and the 25-year-old catcher has 13 home runs in 56 games this year despite entering the season with just eight homers over 274 games in his career.
Thomas Milone drove a ball deep into the lawn in center to start the fourth inning. Three batters later, Velazquez hit his first of the night, with his right-handed swing planting one just above the 408-foot sign in dead center for an 8-3 lead.
Velazquez would hit the next home run, too, this time leading off the sixth and swinging left-handed against righty reliever Ronald Pena. He went with Pena's 0-1 pitch, shooting it the opposite way and into the bullpens.
Velazquez became just the second player in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre franchise history to homer from both sides of the plate in one game, joining Darren Burton, who accomplished the feat April 23, 1998, also against Rochester.
"In high school, I did it," Velazquez said. "I think it was my senior year. I hit one lefty, one righty and then an inside the parker. That was a long time ago."
Right fielder Frederick Cuevas, who entered the game in the sixth inning, capped the home run barrage with his shot to right field off former RailRiders reliever Nick Goody leading off the seventh inning.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre also smashed five doubles, including Kyle Holder's two-run gapper off Goody that ended a 10-pitch at-bat and made it 14-3. The RailRiders finished with 15 hits, one night after managing just three against the Red Wings.
"That's the game," Velazquez said. "One day you're going to have it, next day you might not even know how to swing. So, just taking it day by day, and just trying to get better every day. It's not always going to be — we're not going to hit six, seven, eight home runs every day. Take advantage on the days you feel good and on the days you've got to battle, battle through it."
It was plenty of run support for Glenn Otto, who was making his second Triple-A start and first at PNC Field. Over six innings, he allowed three runs on seven hits, walked one and struck out eight.
He whiffed five of the first 10 batters he faced before Rochester broke through when Jake Noll ripped a fastball for a two-out, two-run triple in the third inning. Jakson Reetz doubled in another two-out run in the fourth inning, then Otto finished strong by retiring seven of the final nine hitters he faced.
He struck out the side in the sixth inning around Blake Swihart's one-out single to end his night.
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