Wings win in extras, increase wild card lead

Kennys Vargas (45) drove in Mitch Garver in the 11th inning, and the Rochester Red Wings increased their lead in the Wild Card race to two games. (Photo courtesy of Rochester Red Wings)

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Kennys Vargas drove in Mitch Garver with a single in the 11th inning and the Rochester Red Wings beat the Columbus Clippers 4-3 Wednesday night at Huntington Park.

Lehigh Valley lost in extra-innings to Norfolk, meaning the Red Wings (71-52) now possess a 2.0 game lead over the IronPigs in the Wild Card chase.

Former Ohio State product Alex Wimmers (5-3) fired 1.2 perfect innings in relief for the Wings while striking out four. He was one of five pitchers used by Rochester.

The Red Wings wasted little time getting on the board, scoring a first-inning run for the second straight game against the Clippers (63-60). Niko Goodrum led off the game against Shawn Morimando with a double and later scored on a two-out single from Garver. Columbus answered in the bottom half against David Hurlbut with three straight singles, the last from Tyler Naquin, to tie the game.

Rochester regained the lead in the third as Daniel Palka singled in Goodrum to make it 2-1.

Both starters then settled in. Morimando retired the final 10 batters he faced before being lifted for rehabbing Andrew Miller in the seventh. Hurlbut pitched into the seventh but was lifted after a leadoff single and a sacrifice bunt. Luke Bard got a pair of strikeouts to leave the runner in scoring position.

Hurlbut was in line for the win after surrendering one run on seven hits with four strikeouts over 6.1 innings. Morimando rebounded from a rough outing at Frontier Field for the Clippers, allowing two runs on five hits and a walk with four strikeouts in 6.0 frames.

Engelb Vielma doubled to open the 8th and scored on Palka’s second RBI hit of the night to extend the lead to 3-1.

Columbus tied the game in the eighth, plating two runs against three Wings relievers. Michael Martinez opened the inning with a bloop ground-rule double that landed on the chalk down the left-field line. Bard was lifted after a groundout in favor of Mason Melotakis, who faced Naquin in a lefty-lefty matchup. Naquin doubled and Melotakis was replaced by Jake Reed. Reed got Richie Shaffer to strikeout but Ronny Rodriguez tied the game with a solid single to left with two outs.

Wimmers entered with one out and a runner at first base in the 10th and struck out Naquin and Shaffer to send it to the 11th. Garver doubled to center against Kyle Crockett (5-4) and Vargas drove him in with a single to right. Wimmers struck out the final two batters in a perfect bottom half.

Goodrum finished with three hits and scored twice. Palka and Garver both tallied multi-hit efforts for the Red Wings who moved a season-high 19 games over .500.

Next Home Game: The Red Wings begin a crucial seven-game homestand with a four-game set against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Yankees) on Monday, August 21 at 7:05 p.m. at Frontier Field.

Tickets: Order tickets online, anytime at or call 423-WING (9464) to charge by phone, Mon-Fri. 9 am-5 pm and weekend game days starting at 10 a.m.

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