ALLENTOWN – With Chase Utley's immediate future still in doubt, there has been a lot of talk of who could replace him. If Kevin Frandsen could have a say, I am sure he would throw his name into the mix.
Yesterday, he let his bat do the talking as he drove in five runs including a three-run blast in the sixth inning to give the IronPigs the lead as Lehigh Valley topped the Buffalo Bison 7-2 before a capacity crowd at Coca Cola Park.
"One swing will do that," IronPig manager Ryne Sandberg said of the blast. "[We got in to] some good long counts, battled, took the walks.
"We needed the blast because he was jamming our hitters and Frandsen finally got a hold of one. It turned things around and the momentum to our side.
The Lehigh Valley shortstop and former San Francisco Giant came to the plate in the sixth inning with runners on first and third and the IronPigs down 2-1.
"It's just one of those situations where you just want to get [the ball] in the air," Frandsen said. "A rollover gets you out of the inning."
He sent the 1-0 offering from Bison starting pitcher Chris Schwinden into the visitor's bullpen for a three-run homer and the winning runs. He also tacked on two more insurance runs with a single in the seventh.
Lehigh Valley starting pitcher Eddie Bonine pitched six innings of two-run ball to get the win.
"He didn't have his good stuff. He left runners out there and got some outs on ground balls and some good defense," Sandberg said. "He allowed us to be in the game and just one rally away."
Bonine withstood a nine hit onslaught by the Bison getting out of bases-loaded jams in the third and fourth innings. He not only battled the effectiveness of his pitches but also had to iron things out with catcher Erik Kratz concerning pitch selection. His ninety pitch effort ended with his easiest inning when he retired the side in order.
"We were just a little off on when we were going start mixing in something a little different," Bonine offered.
By the fifth inning, the issues were ironed out and shutout the Bison through his final two innings of work.
Losing 2-0 with one out in the sixth inning, no IronPig was able to reach second base. That is where the chinks in Schwinden's armor appeared. After pitching brilliantly, the righty surrendered a pair of walks. Josh Barfield took advantage of this opportunity by providing the IronPigs with their first hit since he started the first inning off with a single that drove in catcher Erik Kratz for the first run of the game. Frandsen followed with his three run blast.
Lehigh Valley teed up Bison reliever Taylor Tankersley in the seventh. Jeff Larish drilled a no-out opposite field double that drove in Delwyn Young from first. Pinch hitter Miller and Barfield drew walks to set up Frandsen's single that drove in Larish and Miller for the 7-2 lead.
Lehigh Valley (13-11) has now won their third straight and four of their last five. They will get added help from Domonic Brown. Late last night the Phillies top prospect, according to Baseball America, was optioned to Lehigh Valley along with Brian Bocock. He should be in the lineup tonight in the series finale with the Buffalo Bison and spend the next few weeks with the IronPigs.