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Bisons offense explodes for big 14-8 win over Pawtucket

STAFF REPORTS


PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- A brisk day in Rhode Island resulted in an offensive slugfest with the Bisons outlasting the Paw Sox to claim a 14-8 victory in the rubber match of the series. Buffalo walloped four homeruns and touched up the Paw Sox pitching staff for 14 hits, with the game was largely decided by a grand slam smacked by Dwight Smith Jr. in an eight-run sixth inning. 
 
The Bisons' offense got it started in the top of the third inning with a pair of homeruns to command a 3-0 lead. Toronto's most recent signee, Darnell Sweeney, provided a spark in his first at bat of the season, cracking a 2-2 changeup up in the zone over the right field fence for a solo shot.
Later in the same inning, Danny Espinosa collected his first hit of the young season with a line-drive single to left field. One batter later, power-hitting outfielder Teoscar Hernandez ripped a hanging curveball from Paw Sox starter Chandler Shepard into the Pawtucket bullpen to pad the lead to three runs.
The offense continued to flourish by way of the long ball as the Bisons responded to Pawtucket's four-run third inning with another two-run home run. Last year's All-Star, Jason Leblebijian, belted an up and away fastball that just cleared the left-centerfield wall to give Buffalo the 5-4 lead.
Then the Bisons put the seesaw affair to rest with an eight-run sixth inning. The first 10 batters that came to the plate reached base, starting with a walk by Danny Jansen and yet another hit by Lopes. Leblebijian pulled through for his second hit of the game with a bullet single through the shortstop-third base gap to load the bases with nobody out.
Centerfielder Ian Parmley parlayed a pair of singles with the Bisons' third consecutive base hit with a bloop single to bring in a run and tie the game at six.
Then, Bisons' leadoff man Smith Jr. stepped to the plate in a prime spot-bases loaded, no outs and on the heels of a breakout inning. After working a 2-1 hitter's count against a struggling relief pitcher in Brandon Workman, Smith Jr. turned on one and smashed a game-changing grand slam to right field to put the Bisons ahead, 11-6.
With six runs already in, the Herd tacked on two more with an RBI-single from Jansen and an RBI-groundout from Lopes. In all, the Herd sent 14 men to the plate in the inning.
Right-hander Deck McGuire got the starting nod on the bump for the Bisons. The 28-year-old was originally drafted by the Blue Jays in 2010 and is now in his second stay in Buffalo, making his first appearance for the team since 2014. He finished with a final line of five frames, ceding six earned runs while fanning four. He was the pitcher of record in line for the win thanks to an eight-run offensive torrent by the Bisons in the top of the sixth inning.
With the game out of reach, Smith Jr. capped off a five-RBI game in the ninth inning when he grounded out into a fielder's choice to score Parmley from third, increasing the Buffalo lead to final 14-6. Southpaw Matt Dermody came on to pitch the last of the ninth and set down the Paw Sox in order, thereby securing the win for the Bisons.  
Buffalo now returns to Western New York for a seven-game home stand beginning tomorrow at Coca-Cola Field for the team's home opener against the Indianapolis Indians. First pitch is slated for 2:05 p.m.