Buffalo, NY (SYRACUSE METS) – The Syracuse Mets can’t wake up from a reoccurring nightmare in Buffalo this week. The Bisons came back and won yet again on Saturday afternoon, scoring twice in the bottom of the ninth to win 8-7. Buffalo has won on a walk-off four different times in the first five games of the series.
Early on, a familiar face got Syracuse (16-22) off to a great start. On the first pitch of his at-bat in the top of the first, Ronny Mauricio crushed a home run over the right-field wall to sprint Syracuse out to a 1-0 lead. However, that lead would not last, as Buffalo (17-21) tied it right back up in the bottom of the first when Rafael Lantigua hit a home run on the first pitch of the inning. The Bisons would take their first lead of the afternoon in the bottom of the second inning. Rob Brantly began the inning with a double, moved up to third on a Jamie Ritchie single and scored on another single from Cameron Eden.
In the third, both teams exploded with a flurry of runs. First, the Mets roared in front 5-2 with four runs on three hits. After Danny Mendick struck out starting the inning, Mauricio and Mark Vientos both singled followed by a Gary Sánchez walk to load up the bases with one out. Abraham Almonte then chopped a grounder to first base, plating Mauricio and advancing the other baserunners to second and third with two outs. DJ Stewart came to the plate and brought them all home, pounding a pitch over the right-centerfield fence to make it a 5-2 advantage for the Mets.
That lead wouldn’t last a half inning. Buffalo scored four runs of its own in the third inning, aided by a pair of costly Syracuse errors. Jordan Luplow doubled starting the inning, later scoring on a pair of successive groundouts. So, the bases were clean with two outs and the Mets still in front by a 5-3 count. Then, Buffalo mounted its two-out rally. First, Jamie Ritchie walked and Tanner Morris singled to put two on base. Then, Mendick misplayed an Eden groundball to shortstop, loading up the bases. The next batter, Lantigua, singled sharply into left field to tie the game at five. With Eden now at second and Lantigua at first, the pair of baserunners executed a double steal. As Sánchez tried to throw out Eden at third, he sailed the throw into left field, allowing Eden to prance home and put Buffalo back in front 6-5.
It remained that score into the top of the seventh, when the Syracuse roared back again. Ronny Mauricio stood at first with two outs and Mark Vientos at the plate. Mauricio promptly stole second and put himself in scoring position. It was a fortuitous stolen base – Vientos hit a groundball to shortstop that was misplayed, and Mauricio dashed home to tie the game as the ball skittered into left field. The next batter, Sánchez, came up big in the clutch again. The two-time MLB All-Star lined a sharp double to the right-centerfield wall, scoring Vientos all the way from first and pushing the Mets to a 7-6 lead. Sánchez also had a two-run, go-ahead double in the ninth inning of Friday night’s game.
With one out in the bottom of the ninth, and the Mets still up 7-6, it looked like it would finally be Syracuse’s day. The Mets called upon Grant Hartwig out of the bullpen, who has been among the best relivers for Syracuse all season. Hartwig promptly induced a weak pop out, putting the Mets just one out away from the win. Then, the nightmare happened again. First, Wynton Bernard hit a slow chopper up the third-base line that he legged out for an infield single, extending the game. The next batter, Brantly, drew a walk to put two runners on base with two outs. From there, the game seemingly ended in the blink of an eye. The successive two batters, Ritchie and Morris, both singled to score Bernard and Brantly and end the game in truly heartbreaking fashion again for the Mets. The Bisons walked off as 8-7 winners, their fourth different walk-off win this week.
Syracuse is on the road all week at the Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, the Buffalo Bisons. The final game of the six-game series is set for a 1:05 first pitch on Sunday afternoon. David Griffin is scheduled to start for the Mets, opposed by Zach Thompson for the Bisons.