ALLENTOWN – You need to be as perfect as you can be to beat a team like the Durham Bulls.
IronPig starter Brian Mazone put forth his best effort, but the speed and the depth of last year's International League Champions proved to be too much once again yesterday morning as Durham took the third game of the series, 2-1 in 11 innings.
With their fourth straight close loss, the IronPigs are struggling to get their hitting to match their pitching. After losing 6-3 in 15 innings, they dropped a 5-3 loss to Durham on Tuesday and a 3-2 decision on Wednesday.
"We don't have a lot of offense right now and we're scuffling at bat," manager Dave Huppert said. "We gotta put the ball in play better. Besides the homerun, we only had three guys on second."
Not even a dramatic ninth inning solo homerun to tie the game by John Mayberry was enough to spark the IronPigs. With one out, Mayberry lined the second pitch from former IronPig R.J. Swindle into the left field bullpens tto send the game into extra innings.
In the top of the eleventh, the speed of Desmond Jennings beat out what seemed like a sure inning-ending double play. J.J. Furmaniak followed with a double to right center to score Jennings for the winning run.
Lehigh Valley's Mazone was perfect through five innings when Angel Chavez singled to lead off the sixth. Attempts to sacrifice Chavez into scoring position led to two perfectly placed bunts that ended up as hits.
Desmond Jennings grounded into a fielder's choice and Chavez scored to give the Bull's a 1-0 lead.
The woes at the plate continued as the Pigs are making less and less contact with each at bat. Yesterday, Bull pitchers struck out 16 LV batters.
After just 11 total strikeouts in the first two games of the home stand, the IronPigs have whiffed 65 times in the last five games.
"I can't put my finger on it. If I could I would change it," Huppert said. "These guys have to go out an play. They are trying to get to the big leagues and put up numbers for next year. They gotta figure out how to get the job done."
The IronPigs did survive a ninth inning scare. Durham's Elliot Johnson lined one to centerfielder Chris Duffy. The ball glanced off his glove and hit Duffy in the chest. He threw his arms up looking for the ball, which had gone inside his uniform and lodged in his belt.
The umpires ruled that it was a 'lodged ball' and granted Johnson two bases. Gordon was able to strike out Bull slugger Dan Johnson to set up Mayberry's homer.
"That has to be the most freakiest thing I've ever been involved in," Duffy said. "I don't think anyone has seen anything like that ever."
The final game of the eight-game home stand takes place tonight as Drew Carpenter (7-6, 3.39) faces Richard De Los Santos (9-5, 3.86).