Walk-off Win for Chiefs on Community Night
Published on September 3, 2017
Story and photo by Kent Paisley
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Andrew Stevenson lashed a walk-off single to give the Syracuse Chiefs a 2-1 win over the Buffalo Bisons at NBT Bank Stadium Saturday night to even their final series of the season at one each.
The walk-off single snapped the Chiefs three game losing streak, and allowed the team to celebrate on the final fireworks night of the season.
Community Night at NBT Stadium
The Chiefs held their second annual Community Night, offering a free mystery bobble head to the first one thousand fans who entered the stadium. The bobble heads ranged from Game of Thrones characters to NBA players.
People were also able to purchase additional bobble heads for $5, as well as participate in a 50/50 raffle. All the proceeds went to the Syracuse Chiefs Charitable Foundation.
In addition, one dollar from every game ticket was donated to Maureen’s Hope, a charitable organization which has partnered with the Syracuse Chiefs for its Beads of Courage program.
The Beads of Courage program has Chiefs players wear beads for one game of the season, and write an inspirational note to go along with the beads. The note and beads are then given to hospitalized children that are fighting cancer.
After recognizing during a pregame ceremony some children fighting cancer and having them each throw out a first pitch, the game was on.
Second Inning Scare
Esmil Rogers (3-2, 3.58 ERA) took the hill for the Chiefs. Murphy Smith (3-5, 3.66 ERA) started for the Bisons. The first inning was uneventful for both teams, but the Bisons and the Chiefs each had the opportunity to draw first blood in the second inning.
In the top of the second, Bisons first baseman Randy Tellez drew a walk, and third baseman Jason Leblebijian followed with a single up the middle, putting runners on first and second.
Rogers proceeded to amplify the threat by throwing a fastball in the dirt, knocked down but not corralled by the hobbling catcher Pedro Severino. Serverino hurt his lower leg on a foul tip in the top of the first.
Rogers then struck out Bison catcher Mike Ohlman, and got shortstop Shane Opitz to hit a soaring pop up to Chiefs second baseman Brandon Snyder just outside the infield dirt for the second out of the frame.
Rogers then added to his personal highlight reel to support his cause, with Bisons second baseman Jon Berti hitting a one hop grounder towards the mound.
Rogers stabbed out with his pitching hand and snagged the ball, and then calmly threw to first base to get out of the jam without surrendering a run.
“It wasn’t hit that hard,” Chiefs manager Billy Gardner said after the game. (But) we’d rather see him use his glove,”
No base runner got past first base in the third through fifth innings, but the Chiefs broke the streak in the bottom of the sixth.
Smith had set down nine consecutive Chiefst before facing right fielder Neftali Soto, who singled on a line drive to right field.
Cleanup and designated hitter Clint Robinson strode to the plate next, and cleaned up the lone runner on the bases with a line drive into the left center gap that hopped to the wall for a double.
Snyder followed up with a ten-pitch at bat that resulted in a strikeout, but the damage was complete. The Chiefs had secured the first lead of the game, 1-0 through six innings.
The Bisons responded in the top of the seventh, with Leblebijian hitting a hooking line drive down the left field line for a double. Ohlman, in his second at bat with a runner in scoring position, struck out for the second time.
Opitz answered the bell, hitting a ground ball between the second and first baseman into right field. Soto threw home, but the throw was not in time.
Berti hit into a fielder’s choice at shortstop for the second out and then make the strange decision to try to take second while Rogers was set. He was thrown out to end the inning.
The second inning repeated itself in the bottom of the seventh after reliever Chris Smith entered the game for the Buffalo Bisons, ending the evening for Murphy Smith.
Matt Skole opened up the proceedings with a double. Severino followed up with a walk, putting two ducks on the pond with nobody out.
Sanchez dropped a successful sacrifice bunt to set up second and third with one out for the nine-hole hitter Almanzar.
Almanzar failed to drive home a run by striking out.
Chiefs center fielder Rafael Bautista followed by grounding out to shortstop to end the Syracuse scoring threat.
Chiefs reliever Wander Suero replaced Rogers for the Chiefs in the top of the eighth. Rogers finished his evening throwing 100 pitches, giving up six hits, striking out six with one earned run.
Suero gave up a single to right fielder Ian Parmley to begin the top of the eighth.
Fields dropped a sacrifice bunt to advance Parmley to second with one out.
Bisons left fielder Anthony Alford came to the plate and Suero threw a wild pitch to him, resulting in Parmley taking third base.
Alford hit a pop up that Snyder caught over his shoulder in shallow right field, and Parmley wisely did not attempt to score from third for Buffalo.
Designated hitter Dwight Smith Jr. was intentionally walked on a 3-1 count. He then stole second on the first pitch seen by Tellez. Tellez grounded out to first to end the Buffalo scoring opportunity in the top of the eighth.
Syracuse again saw first and second with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, following a Robinson double and a Snyder walk against Bisons reliever Leonel Campos. But Skole struck out swinging, and the score held 1-1 going into the ninth.
Bobbling the Ninth
Suero returned to the hill for his second inning of work, as only three Chiefs relievers had not pitched on Friday night in a 4-0 loss to the Bisons.
Suero gave up a single to right field to Leblebijian to open the frame. Ohlman flew out, and Opitz walked to set up first and second with one out.
Berti hit a ground out to the third baseman Almanzar, who instead of stepping on third base which he was two feet away from, threw to second base to try to convert the double play. A bobbled decision resulted in first and third with two outs, instead of the inning potentially being over.
Parmley arrived to the plate and Berti stole second base with no throw to set up two runners in scoring position with two outs.
Suero steadied the ship by striking out Parmley, Parmley’s second K of the game.
Wil Browning came into the game for the Bisons in the ninth, hoping to force an extra inning of labor on Labor Day weekend.
He gave up a single to start the frame to Severino. After a Sanchez strikeout, Irving Falu pinch hit for Alamanzar and grounded into a fielder’s choice to Berti, who failed to convert the 4-6-3 double play.
It was now the Bisons’ turn to bobble. Two outs, runner on first, extra innings in sight.
Bautista came to the plate. Falu stole second base, and then took third on a wild fastball in the dirt.
Bautista showed patience, and took the walk handed to him.
Bautista stole second base with no throw on the first pitch of Stevenson’s at bat, to ensure one less force out option for the Bisons.
It did not matter, however, as Stevenson hit a rocket line drive outside of the reach of the diving Leblebijian at third base.
Stevenson had a simple initial thought once he saw the ball get past Leblebijian.
“Game over” Stevenson said.
Remainder of the Season
The Chiefs host two more games against the Buffalo Bisons, and the 142-game season will conclude with a Labor Day afternoon game.
Gardner explained the goals for the team for these final outings.
“Go out and compete like we’ve done all year. Play some good baseball, put ourselves in a position to win.”
The Chiefs and Bisons game Sunday starts at 7:05 P.M., celebrating Back to School Day at NBT Bank Stadium.