The Pawtucket Red Sox lost for the first time in the 2015 season in a 16-inning game that finished with both teams using position players on the mound. Quintin Berry, who had given the PawSox a lead with a base hit in the top of the 16th, was summoned as the second field player to pitch in the bottom half of the frame. He walked five in the inning, including Russ Canzler - an infielder who had pitched the top of the inning for Lehigh Valley and surrendered the hit to Berry.
The game would not have gone to extra innings or exhausted both bullpens had Luke Montz not tied the game with a one-out home run in the top of the ninth.
For much of the day, it looked the PawSox would earn a four-game sweep to open the campaign - in spite of a monster day from IronPigs' third baseman Maikel Franco.
On two occasions Franco gave Lehigh Valley leads they could not hold.
In the first inning he doubled home Chris Nelson to score the game's first run off of Eduardo Rodriguez. Rodriguez wavered early but settled in to retire the final eleven batters he faced in his regular-season AAA debut. Rodriguez went 5.2 innings, allowing only that one run on five hits with four strikeouts and no walks.
The PawSox answered immediately in the second. With one out, Quintin Berry doubled and stole third. Sean Coyle walked before Humberto Quintero tied the game with a single to left. Jeff Bianchi then grounded into a force out that cut down Quintero at second but moved Coyle to third. Jackie Bradley, Jr. put the PawSox ahead with a single to right. Bradley finished the day with three hits and is now 9-for-24 to open the 2015 season.
The PawSox added to their lead in the sixth. After Bianchi's one-out walk, Jemile Weeks crushed a triple to right that made it 3-1.
Lehigh Valley turned the game around in the seventh, cashing in on a pair of walks from Miguel Celestino. With the bases loaded and one out, Chris Nelson tied the game with a single to right, and Franco again put the 'Pigs ahead with a double to the gap in right-center.
In the bottom of the eighth, Humberto Quintero made a defensive play that set the stage for Montz's game-tying blast. After a Chase d'Arnaud double, Celestino unleashed a wild pitch that went to the backstop. D'Arnaud tried to score from second but Quintero fired a strike to the plate to nail the IronPigs' left fielder and keep the deficit at one.
After Montz's ninth-inning homer, the game remained knotted until the 13th.
In that frame, Lehigh Valley stayed with Seth Rosin, on the mound for his second inning and third outing of the series. With the bases loaded and two outs after a pair of walks and a Bradley, Jr. hit, Montz drew a bases loaded walk to push Pawtucket ahead 5-4.
Jeff Bianchi then became the first Pawtucket position player asked to pitch. He gave up the tying run when Tommy Joseph doubled to right to score Brian Bogusevic, but got out of that inning and went on to pitch two more scoreless frames.
The PawSox begin a three-game series in Buffalo on Monday night at 6:05 P.M. PawSox righthander Matt Barnes Owens makes his first start of 2015 and will be opposed by Bisons' righty Chad Jenkins. Radio coverage on 920 AM (WHJJ), the PawSox Radio Network and streaming begins at 5:45.
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