By CHUCKIE MAGGIO
The energy Independence Day baseball provides a ballpark gives off the impression that the game is more than a run-of-the-mill regular season contest. The concessions staff sells more hot dogs, the home team’s uniforms are often special patriotic alternates and the fireworks show afterward is the most grandiose of the year.
The 2008 Rochester Red Wings had just played 25 innings in two days and needed a Fourth of July boost. They got that lift in the form of a record Independence Day crowd and a smooth 8-1 victory.
Rochester topped Buffalo in both extra-inning thrillers. This time, the Red Wings ensured fans would not have to wait out another extended night before the fireworks.
Garrett Jones’s line-drive home run to right, his 66th as a Red Wing, started the scoring in the second inning and entered him into the top 10 of the team’s career home run list with Luke Easter and John Valle.
“It means I’ve been here for a while,” Jones, who finished seventh with 81 homers, remarked to the Democrat and Chronicle. “But it also means I’ve put up good numbers.”
Jones had a strong stat line on his historically significant night, collecting two hits and scoring two runs. Rochester jumped on Bisons starter John Halama, adding a run in the inning when Halama’s wild pitch scored Howie Clark. The Red Wings broke the game open in the fourth, scoring three runs on the strength of four consecutive hits by Jones, Randy Ruiz, Clark and Matt Macri. Sergio Santos couldn’t stretch the hit streak, but his sacrifice fly served just fine.
Four of the nine Rochester batters had multi-hit games. Clark went 4-for-4 with three RBI and Trevor Plouffe hit safely three times while Jones and Macri each contributed two knocks to Rochester’s 13-hit total.
Brian Duensing cruised on the mound, scattering four hits in six innings and striking out four batters in a 100-pitch effort. Buffalo scratched across a ninth-inning run off Carmen Cali, but Cali allowed just one run and one hit and earned a save after three innings of relief.
“It was a nice change to get one and run away with it,” Clark said, and Red Wings pitching coach Stu Cliburn likely agreed; the team used 13 pitchers over the two previous days.
The victory improved Rochester’s record to 42-48, part of a marked turnaround from the club’s 19-32 standing on May 25. The Red Wings finished the season 74-70, their fifth straight winning season. Jones led the team in home runs and RBI with 23 and 92, respectively. Clark hit .293 and drove in 48 runs.
Rochester drew 11,416 fans, the largest crowd of the season and, at that point, the largest on the Fourth of July since the team began keeping records in 1980.
|Red Wings 8, Bisons 1|
|Asdrubal Cabrera||4||0||1||0||Tommy Watkins||5||1||0||0|
|Andy Gonzalez||3||0||0||0||Trevor Plouffe||5||2||3||1|
|Christopher De La Cruz||0||0||0||0||Darnell McDonald||5||0||0||0|
|Michael Aubrey||4||0||2||0||Garrett Jones||3||2||2||1|
|Todd Linden||3||1||0||0||Randy Ruiz||4||1||1||0|
|Morgan Ensberg||4||0||2||0||Howie Clark||4||2||4||3|
|Jason Cooper||4||0||0||1||Matt Macri||2||0||2||1|
|Brad Snyder||4||0||0||0||Sergio Santos||3||0||0||1|
|Yamid Haad||3||0||0||0||Ryan Jorgensen||4||0||1||0|
|Buffalo||0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 – 1|
|Rochester||0 2 0 3 1 0 2 0 X – 8|
|2B – Ensberg, Macri, Clark, Plouffe. HR – Jones (8), Plouffe (3). DP – Rochester 1, Buffalo 1. E – Cabrera. LOB – Rochester 7, Buffalo 7.|
|Brian Duensing (W, 5-8)||6||4||0||0||2||4|
|John Halama (L, 4-2)||5||9||6||6||0||1|
|T – 2:44. Att. – 11,416.
Also on this day: The Red Wings collected 19 hits in a 14-2 rout of Columbus in 1980… Rochester produced 19 hits again three years later and defeated Syracuse 18-4… Tommy Watkins connected on a three-run home run and broke an early tie; Jason Tyner added three hits to power the Red Wings to a 10-6 win over Pawtucket in 2006.