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Herd Tops Knights in Walk-Off Win

11:26 PM, May 21, 2013   |    comments
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( Fans at Coca-Cola Field were treated to a little bit of everything Tuesday night.

A former MLB All-Star on the mound, both managers getting ejected, 25 combined hits and a walk-off hit highlighted the Buffalo Bisons' 8-7 win over the Charlotte Knights in 10 innings.

Andy LaRoche played the role of hero. He collected three hits and four RBIs, including the game-winning ground single just to the right of third base and into left field to score Mauro Gomez from second in the 10th. It was LaRoche's second walk-off hit of the year.

"I enjoy when the pressure's on like that," LaRoche said. "... It's great. I was honestly hoping someone before me would do it. You just want to get out of there with a win and obviously no one wants to stick around all night."

The Bisons blew the game open early, jumping out to a 7-1 lead by the fifth, scoring six of their seven runs with two outs.

"Those are the type of wins that build character," said manager Marty Brown, who after Knights' skipper Joel Skinner was tossed in the fourth, was not in the dugout for the walk-off hit, as he was ejected in the 10th for arguing a hit-by-pitch call on Charlotte's Brandon Short. "Obviously, having the big lead and then dwindling it away and then you see the character of our offensive players to just grind it out and get a run that we needed."

Ricky Romero, the 2011 All-Star with the Toronto Blue Jays, took the mound for his third with the Herd. He went past four innings for the first time of the year with the team and pitched well into the sixth, as Buffalo built him the six-run lead. Through five innings, Romero allowed one run on four hits and struck out two.

Then in the sixth, the trouble for him and the Bisons started. Romero's night was done after he walked the first four batters of the inning to bring the score to 7-2. He finished the evening with six walks.

"Overall, I think it's a positive," Brown said of Romero's performance. "You can't look at that last inning and say the outing was a failure, it really wasn't. I really liked what I saw. I think he's on the right track."

"I think the biggest thing right now is just to try and focus on the positives and not the negatives do much," said Romero, who lowered his ERA from 9.82 to 8.76. "It's frustrating as it is with everything that's going on. I'm just going to get ready to work next time."

Juan Perez inherited Romero's walks and avoided a potential big inning. He allowed a two-run single to his first batter, Angel Sanchez, and then settled in. The left-hander answered with a strikeout for the first out, a force out for the second and a groundout to first to escape the inning with a 7-4 lead.

With his one inning of work, Perez has now given up just one run in his last 15 appearances, which includes 18 2/3 innings.

More trouble found the Herd in the top of the seventh. Dustin McGowan walked the leadoff man, Gordon Beckham, and gave up one-out singles Jordan Danks and Josh Phegley, whose grounder between first and second scored Beckham. Another RBI single by Sanchez off Thad Weber, and a wild pitch tied the game at seven.

A defensive gem kept the tie intact with runners on second and third and two outs. Brandon Short hit a blooper to short right field, and as the ball was inches from the grass and barely in fair ground, Ryan Langerhans gave a full-extension dive to make the catch.

The Knights threatened to take the lead in the ninth, too, but stellar defense again prevented that from occurring. A one-out walk and single had runners on first and second. Sanchez's third hit of the game, a liner to center, appeared to be enough to give Charlotte the go-ahead run. Moises Sierra had other plans as he displayed his rocket of an arm and threw a perfect strike to home that got Phegley out by at least 10 feet.

The Bisons earned four-game series split with the win. They now set their sights on the International League West leading Indianapolis Indians, who they take on in a four-game series to conclude an eight-game homestand. The series will begin Thursday, with a league-wide day off on Wednesday.

"We're going to enjoy our off day, relax and get our legs back underneath us," LaRoche. "We have to pay them back. They took three of four from us in Indy (last week), so hopefully we can at least do that much when they come here."


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