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Bisons take first win of the season in extra innings

STAFF REPORTS



PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- It took the Bisons four attempts to get their 2018 campaign underway. When they finally did on Monday, the first game of the season felt like it had enough in it for an entire month of baseball.
Tim Lopes' single of the glove of PawSox second baseman Mike Miller in the top of the 12th inning scored the Herd's free base runner and lifted Buffalo to a 4-3 victory over Pawtucket at McCoy Stadium.
A new rule being implemented throughout Minor League Baseball, teams now start each extra inning with a free runner on second base. The Bisons were the only one that could push the runner home despite each club having three attempts. That helped Buffalo overcome a blown 3-1 lead, a record 20 strikeouts and a base-running gaff in the 11th inning.
With the game knotted at three after nine innings, both teams tried to bunt the free runner over in the 10th. The Herd left its man at third base while Pawtucket popped up their sacrifice attempt to Buffalo catcher Danny Jansen.
In the 11th, Herd skipper Bobby Meacham decided to let Jansen swing away. The catcher responded with his fourth hit of the night, a drive to right field that should've allowed him to complete his great night with the cycle. However, Rowdy Tellez went back to the second base bag to tag up and Jansen didn't see Meacham put the stop sign up. When the ball came back to the infield, both Tellez and Jansen were standing at third base and Jansen was tagged out.
But Pawtucket didn't have a hit in either the 10th or the 11th, giving the Bisons the chance to win it again in the 12th. Jason Leblebijian was the free runner this time and was pushed to third with a bunt from Roemon Fields and scored on Lopes second hit of the night.
Buffalo had an early 3-1 lead thanks to five innings of two-hit baseball from starter Joe Biagini and home runs from Dwight Smith Jr. and Jansen. Pawtucket scored solo runs in the sixth and seventh innings to tie the game.
Bisons' batters struck out 20 times in the game, with 13 of the punchouts coming with runners on base. The team's previous worst mark was 18 in and 11-10 victory over Syracuse on August 24, 2005.
Sam Moll earned the victory in his Bisons' debut. The sixth pitcher used by Buffalo, the southpaw closed out the 11th inning and worked out of a first-and-third no-out jam in the 12th for the win.
BISONS NOTES:
Monday's victory marks the first time since 2008 the Bisons have won on the road in the first game of the season. Aaron Laffey pitched the Herd to a 9-4 win in Norfolk on April 3, 2008 at Harbor Park…This is already the second time Danny Jansen came a triple away from the cycle at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket. The catcher had two home runs in a four-hit effort in Rhode Island, August 21 of last year…Carlos Ramirez threw 2.1 innings of hitless relief for the Herd. He struck out two…Tim Lopes went 2-5 in his Triple-A debut. He is the younger brother of Christian Lopes, who played 92 games with the Bisons last season. The game lasted four hours and one minute.