By Michael Marzzacco
From the wires:
Syracuse (AAA International): The Syracuse Chiefs fell to the Rochester Red Wings, 3-1, Friday night at Frontier Field. Jose Berrios faced the minimum over the final 20 batters he faced, and the Red Wings hit two more home runs for the victory. Brian Goodwin extended his on-base streak to 15 games in the loss. The game was the Chiefs’ shortest nine-inning affair of the season, lasting only one hour and 54 minutes.
Syracuse (46-53) scored first for the 16th time in the last 20 games, scratching a first inning run against Berrios. Steve Lombardozzi singled with one out and Goodwin followed with an RBI double to give the Chiefs a 1-0 lead.
Harrisburg (AA Eastern): For the second night in a row, Shawn Pleffner delivered the go-ahead RBI pinch-hitting as the Harrisburg Senators topped the Richmond Flying Squirrels, 2-1, in front of 5,094 fans at FNB Field. The Senators managed only four hits in the victory which elevated them to a 54-44 record atop the Western Division standings.
The two teams traded paint in the second inning as both Richmond and Harrisburg pushed a run across in the frame. The Senators got on the board after Neftali Soto doubled, advanced to third on a fly ball from Drew Ward, and scored on a sac fly off the bat of Isaac Ballou.
The game remained knotted at 1-1 until Pleffner was called on to bat in the pitcher’s spot in the seventh inning. Pleffner’s single drove in the go ahead run as Ballou slid around the tag at home.
Boone Whiting was activated off the disabled list to make the start for Harrisburg throwing five solid innings. Whiting scattered four hits and walked three while striking out a batter, but failed to factor in the decision. John Simms (7-4) tossed two perfect innings with three strikeouts to earn the victory. Robert Benincasa worked a scoreless eighth and ninth inning to pocket his second save of the season as the right-hander stranded the tying run at third base to end the game.
Harrisburg and Richmond continue their four-game set on Saturday evening at 6:00 p.m. as the Senators send Tyler Mapes to the hill looking for his 10th win of the season. It’s Star Wars Night at the ballpark and the team will wear special themed Wookie jerseys that will auctioned off after the game benefitting the Special Olympics Area M. The game can be heard on Fox Sports 1460 AM, on the internet at senatorsbaseball.com, or through the TuneIn and iHeart Radio apps with The Matt LeCroy Show beginning the radio broadcast at 5:45 p.m.
Potomac (High-A Carolina League): With a 7-4 lead entering the ninth inning, it appeared as though the Potomac Nationals (51-43, 17-9) were going to cruise to a second consecutive victory over the Winston-Salem Dash (40-57, 12-15). The Dash had other plans though, as Winston-Salem loaded the bases on a single, a walk, and a hit batsman with one out in the top of the ninth before pinch-hitter Telvin Nash turned a three-run deficit into a one-run lead with a grand slam over the right field wall. In what then looked like it would be a crushing defeat, the P-Nats had a runner on first base and one out for RF Drew Vettleson in the bottom of the ninth inning, and the right fielder cleared the right field wall as well, as Potomac picked up it’s third walk-off home run of the season. Vettleson finished the night 4-5 with two home runs and a season high six RBIs.
The game got off to a rough start for Potomac, as the Dash plated three runs in the top of the first inning. A critical error by SS Osvaldo Abreu propelled the inning, as RHP Whit Mayberry (ND) gave up just one earned run in the frame despite a three on the scoreboard. LF Nick Basto made it 2-0 following Abreu’s error with a two-run double, while he scored two batters later on an RBI single by 1B Marcus Davis. Mayberry then went more than four innings before he allowed another hit, as he retired 13 consecutive Dash hitters between the second and the sixth frames. The righty allowed four runs, two earned, over seven innings.
Making his fourth start of the season vs. Potomac, RHP Jordan Stephens (ND) was great over the first four innings, but slowly wilted and allowed Potomac to get back into the game. With just two hits in the first four innings, Potomac trailed 3-0 halfway through the game. Vettleson provided his first of four hits on the night with a leadoff home run in the fifth inning, then plated two more in the sixth with a two-out single. Stephens surrendered three runs on five hits over six-innings in his third no-decision vs. Potomac.
Both sides scored in the seventh, though Potomac took the lead with a four-run frame. The Dash went ahead 4-3 on a leadoff home run by Davis in the top of the inning, but Potomac answered immediately against the bullpen duo of RHP Connor Walsh and RHP Jacob Morris. Three straight hitters reached to start the inning against Walsh, as Abreu tied the game with an RBI single. Two batters later, DH Ryan Zimmerman, who struck out four times in the game, drilled a two-run single into centerfield. Zimmerman’s lone hit on the night put Potomac on top 6-4, while the Washington Nationals’ first baseman scored on a two-out single by Vettleson against Morris, who got the final out of the inning. Walsh was charged with four earned runs in just 0.2 innings. The P-Nats led 7-4 after seven innings.
Out of the Potomac bullpen, RHP Sammy Solis, also on rehab from Washington like Zimmerman, allowed a leadoff single but then struck out the next three men that he faced. After Potomac went quietly in the bottom of the eighth, LHP Justin Thomas entered in search of his fourth save of the season. After the lefty retired the first man in the inning, he gave up a single to Davis, walked 2B Toby Thomas, and hit C Brett Austin in the cleats with an 0-2 pitch. With the bases loaded, Nash pinch-hit for SS Ryan Leonards, and with a full count, Nash cleared everything in right field. Nash’s grand slam made it 8-7 Winston Salem. RHP Wirkin Estevez (W, 2-4) then entered and struck out the next two Dash hitters and kept it a one-run game.
The fourth pitcher of the night for the Dash, LHP Ryan Riga (L, 1-1) walked 1B Jose Marmolejos to start the bottom of the ninth. After a failed sacrifice bunt attempt from LF Alec Keller resulted in a force play at second base, Vettleson stepped in and tallied a hit for the fourth consecutive at-bat, as his second home run of the night gave Potomac a walk-off 9-8 win. It was Vettleson’s second multiple home run game in eight days, as he also had two home runs at Winston-Salem on July 15th. His six RBIs were the most in a single game for a Potomac player thus far in 2016.
With an opportunity for a series victory and potentially more, the P-Nats will host the Dash for a pair of games Saturday night at Pfitzner Stadium. Game one will see Potomac RHP Austen Williams (0-3, 4.91) take the hill against Dash RHP Zach Thompson (1-0, 6.55). In game two, RHP Trey Lambert(0-0, 4.63) will make his first start of the season for the P-Nats, while RHP Kelvis Valerio (3-3, 4.70) is set for his fifth start of the season for Winston-Salem. The doubleheader begins at 5:00pm, while game two will begin approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of the opener.
Hagerstown (Low-A South Atlantic): Columbia has the worst record in the second-half standings in the South Atlantic League.
But the Fireflies do well when they go to Church — right-hander Andrew Church, that is.
On Friday night at Municipal Stadium, Church won his fourth game in as many SAL starts, silencing the bats of the Hagerstown Suns in a 4-1 victory.
Church (4-0) allowed five hits in seven innings, walking one and fanning six. Church now has an ERA of 0.63, with two walks and 31 strikeouts in 28 2/3 SAL innings.
The lone run Church surrendered on Friday night was a solo blast in the first inning by Ian Sagdal, who also hit a double off Church in the seventh but was left stranded at second base.
After winning its seventh straight game by beating Columbia (44-53, 8-19) in the series opener on Wednesday night, Hagerstown (60-38, 17-11) dropped the final two games of the series to fall out of first place. Greensboro (55-42, 17-10) now leads the SAL’s Northern Division by a half-game.
Church, a second-round draft choice of the New York Mets in 2013, had done little in his minor-league career prior to this season. But he apparently has found it. He pitched a one-hit shutout in his previous outing against the Rome Braves.
Columbia got all the runs it needed in the third inning against Hagerstown starter Joan Baez (6-7). Milton Ramos hit an RBI double, then scored as Enmanuel Zabala reached on a bunt single and Suns first baseman Matthew Page made a throwing error on the play.
In the eighth, Columbia added insurance on a two-run triple by Tyler Moore.
After that, the Suns went quietly against Fireflies reliever Criag Missigman who pitched two innings of hitless ball with four strikeouts to earn his second save.
Hagerstown opens a four-game set at home against Charleston (54-42, 12-15) on Saturday night.
Auburn (Short Season-A New York Penn League): The Auburn Doubledays collected a season-high 20 hits, but lost to the State College Spikes, 10-8 on Friday night. Every Doubledays player in the lineup collected a hit, and five Auburn players had a multi-hit game.
State College (23-11) scored right off the bat in the bottom of the first inning against Auburn right-hander A.J. Bogucki. With two outs, Vince Jackson and Jeremy Martinez singled to put runners on first and second base. Elier Rodriguez singled to score Jackson and move Martinez to third base, giving the Spikes a 1-0 lead. Ricardo Bautista then walked to load the bases. Riley Drongesen followed with a base hit to center field that scored both Martinez and Rodriguez to put State College up by three, 3-0.
The Spikes extended their lead in the second inning. Tommy Edman walked, Bogucki hit Matt Davis with a pitch, and Jackson walked to load the bases to begin the inning. After Martinez flew out to right field, Rodriguez hit a two-run double that scored Edman and Davis and advanced Jackson to second base, putting State College up 5-0. Bautista followed with a single to right field that scored Jackson and moved Rodriguez to second base, extending the State College lead to six, 6-0. Riley Drongesen then struck out for the second out of the inning. With Andy Young batting, a wild pitch allowed Rodriguez to move to third base and Bautista to get to second. On the play, Doubledays catcher Luis Vilorio tried to throw out Rodriguez at third, but Vilorio’s throw was errant, allowing Rodriguez to score and Bautista to get to third, making the score 7-0. Young then homered to left-center field with Bautista on third base to extend the Spikes’ lead to nine, 9-0.
Auburn (15-19) scored in the top of the fourth inning. Daniel Johnson singled to left field to lead off the inning and advanced to second base on the play because of a fielding error on Jackson, the left fielder. Nick Banks followed with an infield single to put runners on the corners with no outs. Ryan Ripken then worked a walk to load the bases. Two batters later, Clayton Brandt hit a sacrifice fly to left field that scored Johnson from third base to cut the State College lead to eight, 9-1.
The Doubledays scored again in the fifth inning. With one out, Jake Noll singled. Johnson followed with a single to put runners on first and second. Banks then singled to score Noll and move Johnson to third base to make the State College lead seven, 9-2. Ripken added another base hit that scored Johnson to cut the Spikes’ lead to six, 9-3.
Auburn decreased the deficit again in the seventh inning. Ripken singled, Paul Panaccione singled, and Brandt walked to load the bases with no outs. After a Luis Vilorio pop out, Dalton Dulin singled to right field to score Ripken and cut State College’s lead to five, 9-4.
The Doubledays chipped away again in the top of the eighth inning. With one out, both Banks and Ripken singled to put runners on first and second. Panaccione then grounded into a fielder’s choice in which Banks advanced to third base, Ripken was out at second, and Panaccione was safe at first. Brandt followed with a single that scored Banks and pulled Auburn within four, 9-5.
State College finally scored another run in the bottom of the eighth inning. A pitch hit Mick Fennell to lead off the inning. Edman then singled to put runners on first and second. After Davis and Jackson both flew out to center field, Martinez singled to left field, scoring Fennell to put the Spikes up by five, 10-5.
Auburn kept fighting in the ninth inning though. Dulin singled and Perkins walked to put runners on first and second base. Noll popped out, but Johnson reached base on catcher’s interference to load the bases. Banks then singled to center field to score Dulin and Perkins while moving Johnson to third base as Auburn trailed by three, 10-7. Ripken followed with a single to left-center field to score Johnson and cut the State College lead to just two, 10-8. That’s as close as the Doubledays would get though as the next two batters were retired to end the game.
The Doubledays and Spikes conclude their three-game series Saturday night. Auburn will send left-hander Yonathan Ramirez to the mound to face State College right-hander Ronnie Williams. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.