The Pawtucket Red Sox were one-inning wonders in the final installment of their 2014 season-opening series Sunday afternoon. After cracking open a 3-0 advantage, they let the Lehigh Valley IronPigs retort with five unanswered runs en route to a 5-4 final at McCoy Stadium.
Garin Cecchini opened the scoring in the second when his one-out single to center drove Brandon Snyder home from second base. Cecchini moved along with the help of a wild pitch, a Christian Vazquez base hit and a Corey Brown sac fly to spawn a 2-0 advantage.
After Pigs pitcher Jonathan Pettibone’s second fugitive toss of the inning put Vazquez in scoring position, Heiker Meneses pounced to knock in the third PawSox run.
Lehigh Valley wasted little time filling the pothole on its next turn. With runners at the corners and no outs, Clete Thomas doubled to wave his mates home and whittle the deficit down to 3-2. He moved to third on a wild pitch and crossed the plate himself for the equalizer on a sacrifice grounder by Maikel Franco.
Two-and-a-half uneventful stanzas followed before the Pigs picked on Pawtucket’s first reliever, Tommy Layne. With one out in the sixth, Layne authorized a triple to Reid Brignac and then watched Cameron Rupp belt a 1-2 pitch over the left-field wall.
The resultant 5-3 difference stood until the PawSox’ half of the eighth. Alex Hassan led off with a double to the centerfield warning track and found his way home on back-to-back sacrifice grounders via Ryan Lavarnway and Bryce Brentz.
Apart from a pair of walks, IronPig relievers Kyle Simon and Luis Garcia stifled the Sox thereafter, ensuring a split for the weekend.
Meneses was a nominal No. 9 hitter Sunday, moving Vazquez along the diamond on a pair of hits. In addition to the aforementioned third-inning RBI, he moved his teammate to third base on a two-out single in the seventh. He later waited out four consecutive balls to represent the tying run when his team was down to its final out in the ninth.
Dalier Hinojosa kept the hosts within striking range with two efficient innings of relief. Save for an eighth-inning walk to Rupp, he retired every IronPig he faced, benching the last two on strikes for a 1-2-3 ninth.
Minus the second inning, the Pawtucket bat rack could not solve Pettibone. The Sox snuffed out 1-2-3 in the first, third and fifth. The fourth saw Pettibone yield his only other baserunner with a walk to Cecchini, whose journey ended when Vazquez bounced into a double play.
Cecchini brooked a bigger blunder on the other side of the ball. The third baseman’s fielding error gave Leandro Castro a free pass to lead off what would be the critical top half of the third.
Mike McCoy batted 0-for-5 and terminated three of Pawtucket’s most important frames. His popout to Rupp at the plate stranded Meneses in scoring position with the third out of the second. Later, with Meneses and Vazquez at the corners and a one-run deficit at hand, he flied out to left to squash the seventh.
Symbolically enough, after Meneses drew his temporarily game-saving walk, Garcia caught McCoy looking at three unanswered strikes to cement the 5-4 upshot.
None of Lehigh Valley’s batters mustered more than one run or one hit on the day. As it happened, No. 3 man Maikel Franco and cleanup man Jim Murphy were the only two who could not grab either, though Murphy did reach base on a third-inning walk.
Pettibone picked up credit for the victory while Hector Neris, Jeremy Horst and Simon each earned a hold with one inning of relief apiece. Garcia garnered his first save of the season.
PawSox starter Jeremy Kehrt percolated mixed results in his 2014 season debut. His stat line for the day yielded five full innings, three hits, three runs (two earned), two walks and four “Ks.” Layne took the loss in his second relief appearance.
With his RBI single, Cecchini assured his status as the only Pawtucket player to muster a hit in all four games of the series.
Outfielder Peter Hissey made his Triple-A debut when he pinch-ran for Brandon Snyder in the home half of the eighth. He would constitute the final out of the inning on a force play at second. Hissey subsequently supplanted Snyder in left field for the defensive portion of the ninth.