The Syracuse Mets began their two-week road trip on Tuesday night at the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, locking horns in a good, old-fashioned pitcher’s duel. Unfortunately, the pitching for the home team was just a little bit better, as the RailRiders eked out a 2-0 win with a pair of late runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. The Mets have won just twice in their first 13 road games this season.

Early in the game, each starting pitcher had to dance out of early danger. In the bottom of the first, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (11-19) loaded up the bases with Estevan Florial and Miguel Andujar both singling followed by Phillip Evans being plunked by a pitch with one out to load the bases. However, Thomas Szapucki wiggled his way out of the jam when Greg Bird grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Then, it was the RailRiders turn to escape a jam on the base paths. In the top of the second, Syracuse (10-20) put its first two batters on base when Patrick Mazieka and Gosuke Katoh both singled to start the frame. After that, JP Sears bore down, striking out the next three batters in order to keep it a scoreless game early on.

From there, the starting pitchers took control in shortened outings. Sears did not allow a run in three and two-third innings, surrendering just two hits while fanning eight Mets batters. He retired the final eight Syracuse batters he faced in order, striking out six of them in the process.

Szapucki managed to top Sears’s brilliance, allowing just three hits in four scoreless innings with one walk and a thrilling nine strikeouts. The left-hander has now struck out 28 batters in his 16 innings of work at the Triple-A level this season. The highlight of Szapucki’s night was fanning seven consecutive RailRiders batters at one point in the ballgame.

After that, both teams’ bullpens kept the pitcher’s duel intact. R.J. Alvarez pitched the next two innings in scoreless fashion for Syracuse, walking just two batters with no hits and three strikeouts. The RailRiders kept up their end of the bargain, as José Mujica, Reggie McClain and Shelby Miller tossed a combined four and one-third clean innings with two hits and three walks. The Mets weren’t without their chances to score, leaving a combined five runners on base between the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings.

The game remained scoreless all the way until the bottom of the eighth inning when Scranton/Wilkes-Barre finally unlocked the scoring seal. Matt Pita hit a solo home run leading off the frame for the RailRiders, giving the home team a 1-0 lead that they would never relinquish. Pita has four homers on the season, including two against the Mets. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre tacked on insurance later in the frame, as back-to-back doubles from Andujar and Evans brought home another tally for a 2-0 advantage.

Miller came back out to pitch the ninth, retiring Katoh, Mark Vientos, and Khalil Lee to clinch a shutout victory for the RailRiders. The right-hander has had a strong start to his 2022 season. Miller has posted a slim ERA of 2.92 in 12 and one-third innings pitched with 12 strikeouts and only three walks.

Syracuse continues its six-game series at the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders with a very quick turnaround, playing on Wednesday morning at 11:05 a.m.