Bisons drop season finale

( - The Bisons lost the final game of the 2016 regular season on Labor Day Monday, falling 4-2 to the Pawtucket Red Sox from McCoy Stadium. Buffalo ends the year on a low note, dropping their last seven contests, and 16 of their last 19 games.

Tropical Storm Hermine brought high winds and threats of rain to the Northeastern United States, making the 144th game of the year an uncertainty. The weather cooperated, letting the IL North rivals finish out the season without delay. Monday's game pushes the all-time record between Pawtucket and Buffalo to 163-164, in favor of the Red Sox.

Bryce Brentz pushed a three-run home run through the wind in the bottom of the first, giving Pawtucket a 3-0 lead. It was the first home run in the last eight games for the PawSox.

Bisons' starter Scott Diamond faced seven hitters and threw 31 pitches in the first inning. He settled down, hurling shutout frames for the next two innings, stranding a runner on third in the third. Mike Miller picked up a sac-fly against Diamond in the fourth, making it 4-1.

Jio Mier doubled with two outs in the top of the third to become the Bisons' first baserunner. The next batter, Quintin Berry, was hit by Pawtucket's starter Henry Owens, but Andy Burns grounded out to end the two-out rally. With one out and the bases loaded in the top of the fourth, Owens walked David Adams to put the Bisons on the scoreboard. The Red Sox starter induced back-to-back popups to keep the score 3-1.

Diamond left after 5.0 innings, allowing six hits, four earned runs, and two walks. Reliever John Stilson returned to the Bisons in the sixth, pitching for Buffalo for the first time since 2014. Stilson fielded a comebacker off his mid-section, and stranded Allen Craig on third with a scoreless sixth inning.

Owens allowed a double to Jio Mier in the top of the seventh, and a bobble-ball by shortstop Jose Vinicio on grounder by Andy Burns cut the PawSox lead to 5-2. Owens departed after 6.2 innings, four hits and three walks, striking out five.

It took Chad Girodo just six pitches to retire the PawSox in the seventh. In the bottom of the eighth, righty Chis Smith tossed the final pitch by a Bisons' pitcher in 2016, getting Jantzen Witte to ground into a double play.

Multi-hit games for Mier and Junior Lake highlighted the Bisons' lineup offensively, combining for five of the Herd's seven hits.

Kyle Martin faced Matt Dominguez with the go-ahead run at the plate in the seventh, but a fly ball to left ended the inning. A scoreless top of the ninth for Martin shut the door on the Bisons' 2016 season, with Quintin Berry bouncing into the Bisons' 160th double play of the season, the most in the minors and a franchise-worst.

The Bisons' season began in Pawtucket on April 8, and fittingly ends at McCoy Stadium. Buffalo ends 2016 in fifth place in the International League North. A nine-game winning streak from June 21 to 29 had the Herd entering July with a 46-35 record. Four Bisons were named to the IL All-Star team in July, the most representing the club since 2005. Over the campaign, 40 different transactions sent Bison players to the Toronto Blue Jays, with Chad Girodo, Andy Burns, Dustin Antolin, Danny Barnes and Matt Dermody all making their MLB debuts after stints with the Herd. 14 different ballplayers also made their Buffalo debuts in 2016.

However, a tough stretch off play in July, when they lost nine-straight contests, and in August, when the club went 11-19, knocked the Bisons out of the playoff picture. Buffalo scored three or fewer runs in the final 10 games of the season.

Buffalo will open to 2017 regular season on April 6, as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders will come to Coca-Cola Field for a four-game series, the beginning of an eight-game homestand.


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