This Day in Red Wings History: Wings clinch home field, Gerhart hits No. 28

Ken Gerhart. (Photo courtesy of Rochester Red Wings)

By CHUCKIE MAGGIO

The 6,771 fans who filed into Silver Stadium received a tangible reward for cheering the Rochester Red Wings to victory on Aug. 30, 1986.

Not only did the spectators bring the Red Wings’ regular season home total to 308,798 ticket stubs, the eighth-best turnout in the 58-year history of Silver Stadium, but Rochester assured itself of second place in the International League. The Red Wings clinched home field advantage in the opening round of the IL playoffs, where they’d play in front of many of the same fans who attended the regular season home finale.

Rookie Ken Gerhart hit his 28th home run of the season in the eighth inning, assuming the league lead, to give the Red Wings a 6-5 advantage. Rochester’s first lead of the day held, as the Wings defeated Syracuse 8-5 and added the Fay’s Thruway Series Trophy to their collection by clinching the season series with two games to play.

“We needed to finish strong and not back into the playoffs,” manager John Hart told the Democrat and Chronicle. “We gave (the pennant) our best shot. We wanted second place.”

Baseballs took flight that day at Silver, with four homers leaving the park. Rex Hudler also homered for Rochester, while Jose Castro and Jeff Hearron tagged Red Wings starter Bill Swaggerty.

Swaggerty pitched six innings, allowing eight hits and five runs, four earned, walking three. He did not stay in the game long enough to earn the victory, but received formidable relief from Eric Rasmussen. Rasmussen threw the remaining three innings, striking out three while surrendering just one hit.

“We gave them a go,” Syracuse manager Doug Ault commented in the visiting locker room, his team’s guaranteed winning season not enough for a playoff appearance. “We battled good. We’ll try to go out winning. We want to win before our home fans.”

Gerhart claimed the IL home run crown, the go-ahead homer against Syracuse his last of the regular season, with 15 more than outfield teammate John Hart, who was second on the team.

“It’s nice,” Gerhart said. “But it’s no big deal.”

“We got back to normal tonight,” Rasmussen assessed after his fourth victory of the season and the team’s 75th. “That’s the way we had played most of the year. It’s a good sign.”

Red Wings 8, Chiefs 5
Syracuse AB R H BI Rochester AB R H BI
Sharperson 2b 4 1 1 1 Hudler 2b 5 1 2 2
Green rf 4 0 0 0 O’Malley 3b 1 1 1 1
McGriff 1b 2 0 1 0 Gerhart lf 5 1 3 2
Fielder lf 4 0 1 1 Dodd lf 4 0 1 0
Mitchell cf 0 0 0 0 Hart cf 0 0 0 0
Johnston dh 4 0 1 0 Reddish dh 5 1 2 0
Thornton lf 4 1 0 0 Simmons rf 5 0 1 1
Castro 3b 3 1 2 1 Paris ss 3 1 0 0
Hearon c 4 1 2 1 Falcone 1b 4 1 1 0
Escobar ss 4 1 1 0 Pardo c 4 1 1 0
Totals 33 5 9 4 Totals 36 8 12 6
Syracuse                                               0 1 2    1 0 1   0 0 0  – 5
Rochester                                                   0 0 0    2 0 2   0 4 X  – 8
GWRBI – Gerhart.  E- Leal, Sharperson, Gerhart, Pardo. DP- Rochester 2. LOB- Syracuse 5, Rochester 9. 2B- Johnston, Escobar, Sharperson, Escobar, Reddish. HR- Castro (12), Hudler (2), Hearon (7), Gerhart (28). SF- O’Malley.
Syracuse IP H R ER BB SO
Davis 5 6 3 3 5 4
Clark (L, 8-9) 1.2 4 4 3 1 1
Rochester IP H R ER BB SO
Swaggerty 6 8 5 4 3 0
Rasmussen 3 1 0 0 0 3
T – 2:44. Attendance- 6,771.

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