The Syracuse Chiefs got off to a slow start this season, losing their first two games and ultimately dropping 13 of their first 16. Since then, it’s been an uphill battle. The guys have been chipping away little by little and Friday night, they had a chance to get to .500 for the first time all year.
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The Syracuse Chiefs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, beat the Gwinnett Braves, 6-2, Friday night at Alliance Bank Stadium. With the win, the Chiefs are at .500 for the first time since April 17th of last season.
Syracuse (37-37) started the scoring in the bottom of the first inning on back-to-back one-out hits. Jarrett Hoffpauir tripled into the right-field corner and scored on a line-drive single from Xavier Paul to give the Chiefs a 1-0 lead.
Gwinnett (37-39) answered back in the top of the second inning. Ruben Gotay flared a one-out single to left field, Lance Zawadzki moved him to third with a single through the hole on the left side of the infield, and J.C. Boscan brought Gotay home on the third straight single to left to knot the game up at one.
The Chiefs took the lead for good in the bottom of the third inning. Seth Bynum singled to lead off the inning and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Chiefs pitcher Tanner Roark. Corey Brown followed with a ground-ball single to left field that put runners on the corners with one out. Hoffpauir then came through with a productive out, driving in Bynum with a sacrifice fly to put the Chiefs up 2-1.
The teams swapped scoreless innings all the way until the bottom of the seventh, when Jim Negrych blasted a pinch-hit two-run homer over the wall in left field to extend the Chiefs’ lead to 4-1.
That run support was more than enough for the Chiefs’ pitching staff. Roark spearheaded the effort by tossing six innings of one-run, five-hit ball, and after Austin Bibens-Dirkx worked a scoreless seventh inning.
Jeff Mandel then navigated a tumultuous top of the eighth inning. An error, a hit batsmen, and a single put a run across and runners on the corners for Gwinnett with nobody out, but Mandel kept the Chiefs’ lead at 4-2 by inducing a fly ball to shallow center field from Gotay and forcing Zawadski to ground into an inning-ending double play.
The Chiefs sealed the deal in the bottom of the eighth with two insurance runs. Paul doubled to left-center field with one out and scored on a triple from Brett Carroll. Carroll then scored the game’s last run on an RBI single from Rivero to stretch the Chiefs lead to 6-2.
Hassan Pena worked a scoreless ninth to cap the eight-hitter from the Chiefs pitching staff.
The Chiefs look to move above the .500 mark Saturday night at Alliance Bank Stadium at 7:00. Yunesky Maya is set to pitch for Syracuse. Gwinnett will counter with Julio Teheran.