By MICHAEL MROZIAK
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — BUFFALO — Rookie pitcher Casey Lawrence had to wait an additional hour and a half before making his debut in AAA baseball. Called up from Class-A Dunedin, he got the start for the Buffalo Bisons on Monday night, after waiting out a 90-minute rain delay.
When the cool rain stopped, the Syracuse Chiefs gave Lawrence an even chillier reception, hitting the young pitcher hard for four runs in the first inning on their way to a 8-1 victory over the Bisons at Coca-Cola Field.
The Chiefs built their lead to 5-0 in the second inning when Jimmy Van Ostrand, who reached base on a single, scored at home by beating the throw on a fielder’s choice.
Lawrence settled down by the third inning, striking out one while two other hitters hit fly balls right to the waiting glove of center fielder Anthony Gose. He was relieved after four innings, allowing six runs — five of them earned — on 10 hits. He also struck out three.
Bisons manager Marty Brown thought the youngster performed well in spite of the result. As Brown saw it, Lawrence didn’t get a lot of help from his fielders early on.
“You’ve got to handle the ball in this league and we didn’t handle one ball,” Brown said. “You can’t give the extra outs to any club in this league and especially with Casey out there who hasn’t had much AAA experience.
“He’s making good pitches and before you know it he’s got 30 pitches in the first inning. It was unfortunate because I thought he did make some decent pitches in the first inning.”
The Chiefs continued to pour on their offense after Buffalo sent Buddy Carlyle to the mound in the fifth inning. Zach Walters smacked his fourth home run of the season off Carlyle in the top of the sixth. When his night was over, Carlyle surrendered two runs on three hits but he also struck out three while surrendering no walks.
The Bisons’ bats were as cool as the drizzle which fell intermittently throughout the evening. The Herd mustered eight hits but were unable to advance runners, leaving six men stranded. Buffalo finally got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the seventh when Mike McCoy grounded out to first but drove in Eugenio Velez on the play.
McCoy went 2 for 5 but those two hits came in his first two at-bats, when Buffalo was simply unable to bring anyone home. The Bisons’ leadoff hitter gave a lot of credit to Chiefs winning pitcher Danny Rosenbaum.
“He mixed it up,” said McCoy. “He’s got a nice little cutter and slider ... his fastball, he mixed speeds with his fastball. It looked like he knew how to pitch.”
Although the Bisons offense went cold last night, McCoy is liking his role as the leadoff hitter and is confident he and Anthony Gose, who batted second, can soon click.
“He’s probably a prototypical leadoff guy,” McCoy said of Gose. “He seems to be taking pretty well to it. He likes to bunt, so if I get on it gives him some options. If I’m able to steal a bag it gives him options. I think it’s a good spot for him. He also showed last year he’s a good leadoff hitter. We’ll see what happens.”
The Bisons announced the game’s paid attendance at 4,314 fans but the crowd was far thinner than that, with the weather keeping many away from the ballpark. Luckily for the teams, the high winds expected to arrive late Monday night didn’t do so until about 45 minutes after the game ended.
The same two teams will play the second game of their series tonight at Coca-Cola Field, beginning at 6:05 p.m. Justin Germano, who is 1-0 on the season, is scheduled to start on the mound for Buffalo while Syracuse plans to start Ross Ohlendorf, who is also 1-0.Contact Michael Mroziak at email@example.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/mrozgazette.