Niagara Gazette — BUFFALO — The good news for the Buffalo Bisons is they finally scored a run, ending a 25-inning dry spell.
The bad news is that one run was hardly enough to match the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, who defeated the Bisons by a score of 5-1 in front of 8,778 fans at Coca Cola Field Thursday night.
The Bisons' Ricky Romero (4-7) got into early trouble, conceding a second inning double to Tyler Henson that was followed by a home run by Derrick Mitchell. Before the night was through, Mitchell added two doubles.
After holding the IronPigs to just one hit in the third inning, Lehigh Valley's Leandro Castro got aboard with a single in the fourth inning. After stealing second and advancing to third on Cameron Rupp's fly out to center, Tyson Gillies singled to bring him home and increase the visitors' lead to 3-0. Gillies, like Mitchell, gave Buffalo fits at the plate, driving home two of the IronPigs' runs.
Many of Romero's pitches were low and in the dirt, keeping Buffalo catcher Mike Nickeas on his toes during several at-bats. However, Romero also had the heat at moments, striking out six batters in his 5 1/3 innings of work.
Romero's defense also came through on several occasions. The defensive play of the game came from center fielder Ryan Langerhans, who rejoined the Bisons Thursday after being released in June, followed by a brief stint with the independent Atlantic League's Sugarland Skeeters. Langerhans robbed Cameron Rupp of a home run in the second inning when he extended his glove and caught the ball just over the wall.
"He looks like he's kept himself in great shape," said Bisons manager Marty Brown about Langerhans' return to the roster. "He's lost a little bit of weight, probably from the Texas heat."
"Hopefully it showed Marty (Brown) that my legs are under me pretty good right now, being able to make that catch out there" said Langerhans when asked about his big catch.
Romero got in more trouble in the sixth inning, giving up three hits and keeping the inning at just one out on a bad throw to second while trying to get Rupp on a forced out. Rupp took second safely, while Mitchell scored to make it 4-1 in favor of the IronPigs.
After loading up the bases in the sixth, Romero's night was done as he was pulled for reliever Mickey Storey. He got off to an unlucky start, as a passed ball allowed Rupp to score and make it 5-1. Storey, along with fellow Bison relievers Joel Carreno and John Stilson, otherwise kept Lehigh Valley's quiet for the rest of the game.
Unfortunately for Buffalo, they too could produce little at bat. Langerhans further celebrated his return to Buffalo with a ground rule double in the bottom of the ninth, but his opportunity to score was wasted when Brad Glenn flied out to left field for the final out of the game.
With several of Buffalo's potent hitters now in Toronto playing for the parent Blue Jays, Langerhans' return is most welcome as Buffalo struggles to stay in the hunt for a playoff spot, which became a bit more challenging with Thursday night's loss.
"Ryan's always going to be a plus in the clubhouse. He's a professional," said Brown. "He knows how to go about his day, no matter where you're at in the season. It's a pleasure to have him back."
As for the Bisons (67-65), Romero took the loss while Lehigh Valley's David Buchanan (3-1) got the win.
Buffalo fell into fourth place in the International League North, now trailing first place Pawtucket by five games. In the race for the IL's wild card postseason spot, the Bisons now trail the current holder of that wild card, the Rochester Red Wings, by 4 1/2 games.
The Bisons and IronPigs will play the second game of their four-game series at Coca Cola Field tonight, beginning at 7:05 p.m. Thad Weber is expected to start for the Herd.