By CHUCKIE MAGGIO
The Rochester Red Wings’ stagnant August needed a reprieve.
Rochester had scored two runs in 23 innings leading up to its Aug. 22, 1978 contest in Syracuse. Three lineup regulars were striking out in 15 percent of their at bats, each hitting below .250. And the defense was alarmingly poor, committing 22 errors in a 12-game span.
Syracuse represented a “get right game” for the slumping Wings, who put their recent struggles behind them and thumped the Chiefs 9-0 at MacArthur Stadium.
Gary Roenicke hit two home runs and a single, driving in six runs as the offensive standout while Sammy Stewart pitched his first Triple-A shutout.
“Just what the doctor ordered,” Red Wings manager Frank Robinson told the Democrat and Chronicle. “We got the runs, the complete game and the win.”
Roenicke got started with a two-run, two-out homer off Ken Reynolds in the first inning to give the Wings a 2-0 lead. The follow-up was a fifth inning shot, part of a five-run frame, that chased Reynolds from the game.
Robinson sought all of the right-handed batters he could feature against Reynolds, which led to some unusual field positions. The future Baseball Hall of Famer penciled Roenicke, normally an outfielder, into a first base assignment while placing catcher Dave Criscione in right.
With a doubleheader looming the next day, Robinson needed Stewart to produce a quality start. The 23-year-old scattered six hits, five of them singles, for the staff’s third complete game of the year.
One of the few Chiefs to record a hit that night? Current Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge, who played three seasons in the Toronto Blue Jays organization before winning two NBA championships playing for Boston.
Stewart, who proved then that he could go the distance, finished 1978 with six complete starts.
“I’m not sure who I’ll pitch on Wednesday. I’ll sleep on it,” Robinson commented, noting a looming doubleheader. “But after tonight it’ll be a lot easier to sleep with.”
The Red Wings closed Toledo’s lead for the fourth and final International League playoff spot to a half-game. They remained tied with Tidewater for fifth with 14 games left.
Stewart compiled a 10-year MLB career, winning a World Series with Baltimore in 1983 and maintaining a lifetime 3.60 ERA. Roenicke was a teammate on that World Series squad and is a member of the Orioles Hall of Fame, boasting 555 hits including 106 home runs with the franchise.
|Red Wings 9, Chiefs 0|
|Allen lf||4||0||0||1||Iorg 3b||5||0||2||0|
|Krenchicki 2b||5||2||2||0||Pape dh||3||0||1||0|
|Criscione rf||4||2||1||0||Woods cf||2||0||0||0|
|Roenicke 1b||4||3||3||6||Alberts rf||4||0||0||0|
|Corey dh||1||0||0||0||Whitt c||4||0||1||0|
|Cardoza dh||3||0||2||1||Sandt 2b||3||0||0||0|
|Bianco 3b||3||0||1||1||Wells 1b||3||0||0||0|
|Kennedy c||3||0||0||0||Geach lf||4||0||0||0|
|Dimmel cf||3||0||0||0||Ainge ss||3||0||1||0|
|Rochester||2 0 0 0 5 0 0 0 2 – 9|
|Syracuse||0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 – 0|
|E – Wells, Ainge. DP – Rochester 2, Syracuse 2. LOB – Rochester 5, Syracuse 10. 2B – Pape. 3B – Perez. HR – Roenicke 2 (12). SF – Allen, Bianco. SB – Cardoza.|
|Stewart (W, 13-9)||9||6||0||0||6||4|
|Reynolds (L, 6-9)||4.1||7||7||5||2||2|
|HBP – Roenicke (by Baker). T – 2:19. Attendance – 4,540.
Also on this date: Alex Romero’s 10th inning single gave the Red Wings a 4-3 win over Syracuse at Frontier Field in 2006. With first place Scranton’s loss Tuesday to Buffalo, Rochester moved within one game of first place in the IL North Division.