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Bisons earn walk-off win as Pearson dazzles


Sunday afternoon's contest at Sahlen Field was a game the Bisons absolutely had to have. Thanks to a dominant start from top pitching prospect Nate Pearson and some late-inning heroics from Roemon Fields, the Herd squeezed by the PawSox, 5-4, in 11 innings in front of 10,411 in downtown Buffalo.
Fields lined a game-winning single into centerfield with the bases loaded in the bottom half of the 11th inning to give the Bisons their first victory of the final homestand. The win, along with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's loss in Lehigh Valley on Sunday means the Bisons closed the gap to IL North leading RailRiders to just three games.
With their free runner already on second, the Bisons loaded the bases in the 11th after Michael De La Cruz drew a walk and PawSox reliever Colten Brewer failed in his attempt to get the lead base runner on Santiago Espinal's bunt back to the mound. Two batters later, Fields ripped a line drive into the right-center gap that would've given the speedster a double or even a triple on most occasions. Instead, Fields was mobbed by his teammates shortly after crossing first base as Socrates Brito was able to easily trot to home for the game winning run.
The Bisons were in danger of letting the game slip away after taking a 4-3 lead in the eighth inning on an RBI-single from Jonathan Davis and wall-ball double from Patrick Kivlehan that scored the go-ahead run. Bryce Brentz tied the game in the PawSox ninth with his 18th home run of the season, a no-doubt screamer into the netting in left field.
Then in the 10th, Fields was the free base runner on second when Andy Burns clubbed a pinch-hit double that nearly missed being a walk-off home run. But Fields was playing to tag and could only advance to third base on the double. Pawtucket's Hector Velazquez then got a ground out, a shallow fly ball and a pop out on the infield to get out of the jam.
Before the late inning heroics, Sunday's affair was all about the Sahlen Field debut for the Blue Jays top pitching prospect. The righty nicknamed 'Big Nate,' Pearson got into a real groove after allowing a two-run home run to Bobby Dalbec in the second. The prospect retired the next 10 batters after the homer, including five consecutive strikeouts from the end of the third to the first batter in the fifth. 
Pearson topped out at 99 mph, but also had an impressive curveball that accounted for all three of the strikeouts in the fourth. In the no-decision, he struck out seven and walked none, allowing just two hits in six innings of work.
Of the final 17 batters he faced, the only two PawSox to reach base came on a hit batter and a strikeout on a wild pitch.
The Bisons first two runs came via the long ball as Patrick Kivlehan and Santiago Espinal hit homers in the first and second innings respectively. Kivlehan's team-best 28th of the season was a mammoth shot that hit halfway up the ballpark's scoreboard in centerfield. Espinal's homer to left was his first career at Triple-A.
With only four games left this season, the Bisons will welcome in the Rochester Red Wings on Monday with a game one first pitch of 7:05 p.m.

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