ALLENTOWN – Sometimes a bad inning can over shadow the nine, ten,….or fourteen that came before it.
Last night the IronPigs cast away a golden opportunity to win their second straight series as the Norfolk Tides won the battle of the bullpens and scored three in the top of the 15th inning to down Lehigh Valley 6-3.
Joe Savery, starting his first game in over a month, gave up three runs before being pulled after five innings. All the IronPig bullpen did was throw nine plus scoreless innings including a stretch where they retired a club record 23 Tide batters.
"They were outstanding," Huppert said of his bullpen.
After pitching a perfect fourteenth inning, Michael Schwimer surrendered a leadoff double to Brandon Snyder. After a sacrifice that placed Snyder at third and a walk to pinch hitter Paco Figueroa, Matt Angle laid down the perfect bunt for the suicide squeeze.
Dane Sardinha was unable to handle Schwimmer's errant throw giving the Tide a 4-3 lead.
With two on, Robert Andino followed with a grounder that handcuffed 'Pig second baseman Ozzie Chavez. That second error of the inning plated two more to set the final score.
"That ball had so much spin on it, that if you don't catch it in the air, the only chance you have is to knock it down," Huppert said. "We were playing them up the middle because that is where they were hitting them. That had nothing to do with Ozzie. He played a [heckuva] ball game.
Tide reliever Jim Hoey finished off his second inning of work by mowing down all three IronPig batters in the bottom of the fifteenth to end the 4 hour 18 minute affair.
For as good as the IronPig 'pen was, Norfolk's was better. Five relievers combined for ten scoreless innings while striking out 13 Lehigh Valley batters. The only IronPig to reach second after the fifth inning was Domonic Brown.
In the eighth inning the Phillies top prospect punched one down the left field line and off the glove of Norfolk's Nolan Reimold. Brown circled second a little too far and Reimold's perfect strike sent him back to the dugout for the second out of the inning.
In a spot start, Joe Savery allowed runners on base in the first four innings. The result left Norfolk with a 3-0 lead and the number nine-hitter Blake Davis with two hits, an RBI, and a run scored.
Tide starter Tim Bascom pitched four scoreless innings and it appeared that it was going to be five. A wild pitch on a two-out strikeout allowed Lehigh Valley's Brian Bocock to reach first and extend the inning. Chris Duffy followed with a single to center to place two on.
Chavez, who was having a great night until the final inning, tied the game with a three-run blast to tie the score 3-3. That spelled the end of Bascom and set the stage for the bullpen pitching duel.
He and shortstop Brian Bocock made plays that would appear on ESPN's web gems. In the seventh inning, the speedy lead-off hitter Angle walked. Andino lined one up the middle. Chavez dove for the ball, tossed it to Bocock, who nipped Andino at first.
"He made a real nice play to start the double play and get us out of a jam," Huppert said of Chavez.
Today, the Durham Bulls (62-40) roll into Allentown as Vance Worley will make his IronPig debut. Worley was 9-4 with a 3.42 ERA at Reading this season and pitched one scoreless inning for the Phillies over the weekend.