By Michael Marzzacco
After another hiatus, I’m back writing more minor league updates. Here’s what happened over the weekend and on Monday.
Compiled via team press releases:
SYRACUSE (AAA International League):
Rochester (27-29) struck for three runs in the bottom of the first. Sean O’Sullivan walked Mitch Garver and Matt Hague back-to-back with one out. Tommy Field followed with a two-run double to give the Red Wings a 2-0 lead. Field moved to third on the throw, and scored on ByungHo Park’s single to left for a 3-0 advantage.
Saturday: The Syracuse Chiefs used a pair of strong innings to edge the Rochester Red Wings, 8-6, on Saturday night from Frontier Field. The Chiefs grabbed all eight of their runs and all 12 of their hits in the second and fifth innings. Syracuse blasted four home runs in the victory.
Sunday: The Syracuse Chiefs dropped a one-run series finale, 6-5, to the Rochester Red Wings on Sunday afternoon. The Chiefs rallied with five of the final six runs, including home runs from Joey Butler and Jhonatan Solano, but fell just short in the last of a split four-game series.
HARRISBURG (AA Eastern League):
Friday: Cody Decker hit a grand slam in the eighth inning, leading the Binghamton Rumble Ponies to a 10-6 win over the Harrisburg Senators on Friday.
The grand slam by Decker scored Colton Plaia, Jio Mier, and Luis Guillorme and was the game’s last scoring play.
Luis Mateo (1-0) got the win with two innings of scoreless, one-hit relief while Ryan Brinley (3-4) took the loss in the Eastern League game.
Saturday: Khayyan Norfork hit a walk-off single with one out in the ninth inning, as the Harrisburg Senators topped the Binghamton Rumble Ponies 5-4 on Saturday.
Yadiel Hernandez scored the game-winning run after he reached on an error to score a run.
The Rumble Ponies took a 4-3 lead in the top of the eighth when Matt Oberste hit a solo home run.
Andrew Robinson (1-0) got the win in relief while Cory Burns (0-1) took the loss in the Eastern League game.
The Rumble Ponies squandered some scoring chances, leaving 13 runners on base in the loss.
Sunday: Cory Burns got Corban Joseph to fly out with the bases loaded to end the game in the 11th inning, leading the Binghamton Rumble Ponies to a 4-3 win over the Harrisburg Senators on Sunday.
Trailing 1-0 in the fourth, Binghamton went out in front when Tomas Nido hit an RBI double and then scored on a single by Kevin Taylor.
Harrisburg answered in the bottom of the inning when Alec Keller hit an RBI triple, scoring John Simms to tie the game.
The Rumble Ponies took the lead for good in the 11th when Matt Oberste drew a bases-loaded walk, scoring Kevin Kaczmarski.
Harrisburg saw its comeback attempt come up short after Mario Lisson hit an RBI single, driving in Yadiel Hernandez in the 11th inning to cut the Binghamton lead to 4-3.
Tim Peterson (2-2) picked up the win after he struck out two while allowing one hit over two scoreless innings. R.C. Orlan (1-2) didn’t record an out and allowed two runs in the Eastern League game.
The Senators left some scoring opportunities on the table, stranding 14 baserunners in the loss.
POTOMAC (High-A Carolina League):
Friday: A night after a 10-0 shutout victory, the Potomac Nationals (27-34) failed to plate a run in a 1-0 loss to the Down East Wood Ducks (22-38). Potomac managed just five hits and had multiple men reach base in just one inning.
Despite a strong start from LHP Grant Borne (L, 1-2), the P-Nats failed to muster much of anything offensively against RHP Richelson Pena (W, 4-2). Borne allowed just one run on six hits over a season high seven innings. It was the second straight night that the Potomac starter went at least seven innings. Pena did just better though, as the Down East starter allowed just five hits over seven-shutout frames.
The only run in the game came in the top of the third inning. SS Arturo Lara led off the frame with a single. After Borne induced two groundouts, CF Matt Lipka put the Wood Ducks on top 1-0 with an RBI double. The Wood Ducks left Lipka at second base, and finished 1-6 with RISP.
The P-Nats’ best offensive chance came in the home half of the third frame, as they tallied three singles against Pena. 1B Ian Sagdal led off with a single, but quickly got picked off with LF Jack Sundberg at the plate. Sundberg then singled, while SS David Masters put men on first and second base with a base hit. With two men on and two outs, 2B Bryan Mejia fouled out to first base and ended Potomac’s best offensive threat.
After the scoring chance in the third inning, Potomac managed just three baserunners through the rest of the game. Sundberg singled in the fourth inning, CF Victor Robles doubled in the fifth frame, and Masters walked in the bottom of the seventh inning. RHP Jose Valdespina retired the side in order in the eighth inning for the Wood Ducks, while RHP Ricardo Rodriguez (SV, 9) remained perfect in save chances with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
As each team has picked up a shutout in the series, they’ll turn to Saturday night with a chance to take the series lead. Potomac will send LHP Hector Silvestre (5-2, 4.55) to the mound. Silvestre has pitched at least five innings in nine of his first 11 starts, though the right-handed starter has surrendered at least four earned runs in two of his last three outings. For the Wood Ducks, RHP Jonathan Hernandez (0-1, 17.18) is set for just his second start in the Carolina League. Hernandez gave up seven runs on 12 hits in his debut, a loss vs. the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.
First pitch on Saturday night is set for 6:35.
Saturday: The Potomac Nationals (28-34) scored six unanswered runs over the final five frames to defeat the Down East Wood Ducks (22-39) 8-1 on Saturday night at Pfitzner Stadium. The P-Nats have now recorded 15 hits in both wins in the series. 2B Austin Davidson and LF Jack Sundberg led The Red, White & Blue with three hits a piece while five of nine starters put together a multi-hit performance in the win.
The P-Nats jumped out to an early 2-0 lead over RHP Jonathan Hernandez (L, 0-2) in the bottom of the first inning. Sundberg singled with one out and landed on second base after a wild pitch. Davidson drove the left-fielder in with his first RBI of the evening on a single back up the middle. With C Taylor Gushue batting, Davidson reached second base after a Hernandez throwing error on a pick off attempt at first base. The team-leader in runs batted in plated the second run of the game with a double to deep right field.
Down East scored it’s only run of the game in the top of the third inning against LHP Hector Silvestre (W, 6-2). 2B Brallan Perez singled with two outs and stole second base to put a runner in scoring position for RF Preston Scott. The leadoff man in the Wood Ducks lineup delivered an RBI single to cut the deficit in half after three innings.
Silvestre only went five innings and threw just 74 pitches in his 12th start of the season but his effort was enough to earn the win. The left-hander pitched well, allowing just one earned run on three hits. He struck out three Wood Ducks while on his way to his team-leading sixth win of the season. With the win over Down East, Silvestre improves to 2-0 with a 1.04 ERA against the Wood Ducks this season.
Potomac began it’s offensive onslaught in the bottom of the fourth inning. Three consecutive singles from SS Edwin Lora, RF Rhett Wiseman and 3B David Masters brought home the third run of the game for the P-Nats. The RBI single from Masters began a run of three straight frames with a run for The Red, White & Blue.
Sundberg picked up his second hit of the game to begin the bottom of the fifth and came home to score a batter later on a Davidson triple to the gap in right-center. The next batter, Gushue, grabbed another RBI with his sixth sacrifice fly of the season. With two runs batted in on Saturday night, the Potomac catcher now has 47 runs batted in on the season.
The Red, White & Blue blew the game open in the bottom of the sixth with two more runs against RHP Jason Shortslef. Wiseman welcomed the new right-handed reliever to the game with a long solo home run on the third pitch Shortslef threw. The 2-0 delivery was deposited deep over the right-field fence for Wiseman’s sixth round tripper of the season. With two outs later in the inning, Sundberg struck again for his third hit of the game and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Davidson dropped a bloop single into center for his third run batted in of the game. Potomac opened up a 7-1 lead after six innings.
CF Victor Robles capped off the scoring for the P-Nats with an RBI double in the bottom of the eighth inning. The two-bagger gave Potomac a 15-hit game for the second time in the series. The total falls just two shy of the team’s season high set on April 10th against Frederick. Over the first three games of the series, the P-Nats have outscored the Wood Ducks 18-1.
Potomac looks to take the four-game series with a win on Sunday afternoon against Down East. The P-Nats look to RHP Wirkin Estevez (3-3, 4.17) who has pitched seven quality starts over his first 10 appearances of the season. The Wood Ducks send LHP Jeffrey Springs (1-5, 6.01) to the mound in opposition. Springs struck out 10 Nationals in his last outing against Potomac on May 3rd at Grainger Stadium.
First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 pm on Sunday at Pfitzner Stadium.
Sunday: With a five-run third inning, the Potomac Nationals (29-34) earned a 5-2 victory over the Down East Wood Ducks (22-40), Potomac’s third win in four games. RHP Wirkin Estevez (W, 4-3) allowed just two runs, one earned, over 6.2 innings. The P-Nats yielded just four runs, three earned, over the four-game series win.
The Wood Ducks scored the first run of the game courtesy of an error by Potomac SS Edwin Lora. C Chuck Moorman led off the second inning with a double, and after a pair of groundouts, SS Arturo Lara grounded out to Lora. Lora committed his 13th error of the season, as his throw was wide of first base, which plated Moorman.
Estevez worked around the unearned run in the second inning, as he allowed just one more run over his start. The right-handed starter notched his fourth straight quality start, his eighth quality start in 11 outings this season. Estevez gave up a sac fly to Lara in the seventh inning, the only earned run he allowed.
Potomac plated all five runs in the third inning against LHP Jeffrey Springs (L, 1-6). Consecutive one-out extra base hits from 1B Matt Page and C Jake Lowery tied the game, while LF Jack Sundberg put the P-Nats on top 2-1. After DH Austin Davidson walked, RF Dale Carey put the P-Nats ahead 5-1 with a three-run home run. Carey tallied his second home run of the season in his first game back after more than five weeks on the disabled list.
After 6.2 innings from Estevez, RHP Kyle Schepel recorded the final out in the seventh inning, and then worked around two base hits in the eighth frame. RHP Gilberto Mendez (SV, 7) worked a perfect ninth inning and secured the Potomac victory.
With three wins in their past four games, the P-Nats will welcome in the Buies Creek Astros (Houston Astros) to town on Monday night. It will be the first time in franchise history that the Astros will visit Pfitzner Stadium. RHP Nolan Sanburn (0-1, 5.28) is set to get the start for Potomac, his second of the season. In his first start after four relief outings, Sanburn gave up five runs on nine hits over six innings in a no-decision against the Keys. For the Astros, LHP Brett Adcock (1-3, 6.17) will make his fifth start of the season. In his last two outings, Adcock is 0-1 but has a 1.80 ERA.
First pitch on Monday night is set for 7:05.
Monday: Thanks to a season high eight-run inning, the Potomac Nationals (30-34) picked up their third straight victory. Hosting the Buies Creek Astros (34-30) for the first time in franchise history, the P-Nats scored eight runs in the bottom of fourth inning in the 12-4 win. RHP Nolan Sanburn (W, 1-1) allowed three runs in the third inning, but did not allow another run in his six-inning start. Sanburn gave up four hits and struck out four in his second start.
The P-Nats got the scoring started early, as they plated a run against LHP Brett Adcock (ND) in the bottom of the first inning. DH Jack Sundberg walked with one out, 2B Austin Davidson put men on the corners with a single, and C Taylor Gushue made it 1-0 Potomac with an RBI single. Adcock allowed two runs, one earned, over just three innings.
Buies Creek got back into the game in the third inning, as the first four batters reached base. 1B Dexture McCall led off the inning with a game-tying home run. SS Rodrigo Ayarza walked, while CF Myles Straw singled. DH Ryne Birk gave the Astros the lead with an RBI single, while RF Stephen Wrenn made it 3-1 with a sacrifice fly.
The eight-run fourth inning proved to be the difference in the game, as Potomac sent 11 men to the plate. 3B David Masters led off the frame with a home run, while CF Victor Robles and Sundberg followed with consecutive singles. After LHP Howie Brey (L, 0-2) retired the next two hitters, 1B Ian Sagdal put Potomac ahead for good with a two-run, two-out, double. An error by 3B Randy Cesar made it 5-1 Potomac, while RF Rhett Wiseman put the game out of reach with a three-run home run, his seventh home run of the season. After Masters reached on the third error of the game by Cesar, Robles made it 6-1 with an RBI double, his second hit of the inning.
After a pair of scoreless innings, the Astros plated their final run on two walks, a hit, and a wild pitch in the seventh frame, all against RHP Tyler Skulina. Skulina’s wild pitch with Ayarza at the plate scored De Goti, which cut Potomac’s lead to six runs.
Potomac wrapped up the scoring in the eighth inning, as Sagdal hit his seventh home run of the season, a two-run blast off of RHP Andrew Walter. Sagdal finished with four RBIs in the victory.
With wins now in four of the last five games, the P-Nats will look to take a second consecutive series, as The Red, White, & Blue will host the Astros on Tuesday night. Recently named Carolina League Pitcher of the Week, RHP Luis Reyes (5-5, 4.06), is set to take the mound. Reyes struck out 10 over eight-shutout innings in his last start. For the Astros, RHP Yoanys Quiala (4-1, 2.68) is scheduled to make the start. Quiala has not allowed more than one earned run in any of his last four outings.
First pitch on Tuesday night is set for 7:05.
HAGERSTOWN (Low-A South Atlantic League):
Friday: Trailing Lakewood 7-3 in the middle of the eighth, Hagerstown’s league-leading offense came to life as All-Star third baseman Sheldon Neuse tied the game with a three-run homer and Anderson Franco put the Suns (35-25) ahead for good with a two-out RBI single in an 8-7 comeback win over the BlueClaws (33-28) at Municipal Stadium on Friday night.
Lakewood reliever Trevor Bettencourt (Loss, 2-1) gave up five runs on six hits in the bottom of the eighth. Telmito Agustin led off with an infield single and later scored on a wild pitch. Neuse pounded a two-strike pitch to right-center field for his sixth homer and tied Jake Noll for the team lead with his 31st RBI. Jakson Reetz kept the inning going with a two-out single, which brought Franco to the dish for his clutch single that scored Noll and Hagerstown took its first lead of the game, 8-7.
Hayden Howard (Win, 4-0) pitched a perfect ninth after giving up one earned run on five hits through four complete innings of relief. The 23-year-old Texas Tech alum has allowed just two earned runs in his last 14 1/3 innings.
Lakewood jumped out to a 5-0 in the fourth against Suns starter James Bourque, highlighted by a two-run double from Luke Williams in the second. Bourque settled down in the fifth and retired the BlueClaws in order to finish with five strikeouts.
The Suns hit the comeback trail in the bottom of the fourth when Daniel Johnson hammered his league-leading 13th home run to right-center field. The 21-year-old from Vallejo, California now leads Kannapolis catcher Seby Zavala by three homers and will start in right field for the Northern Division during the SAL All-Star Game on June 20 in Columbia, South Carolina.
Johnson finished 2-for-3 at the plate with two runs scored and fellow All-Star starter Neuse went 2-for-4 with three RBI and two runs scored. Noll also finished with two hits and two runs scored.
Hagerstown remains in first place atop the SAL Northern Division by 1 1/2 games over the second-place Greensboro Grasshoppers with just 10 games left before the first half champion is crowned. With Friday’s loss, Lakewood fell to third place, 2 1/2 games behind the Suns.
On Saturday, the Suns and BlueClaws meet again in their second of four games during Pink Weekend in Hagerstown. Right-handed starter Carlos Pena (3-3, 6.38) goes to the mound for Hagerstown at 6:05 p.m. against Lakewood lefty JoJo Romero (4-1, 2.04).
Saturday: For the second-straight night, the Suns erased a late-game deficit to the Lakewood BlueClaws, plating eight runs between the seventh and eighth innings, to hand their division rivals another heartbreaker in a 9-7 victory at Municipal Stadium on Saturday.
The Suns (36-25) snapped a season-long scoreless streak by Lakewood reliever Will Hibbs (Loss, 4-1), who entered the game with 32 shutout innings. Paul Panaccione drew a bases-loaded walk before three SAL All-Stars strung together RBIs. Aldrem Corredor pulled a run-scoring single to right, Daniel Johnson tagged a two-run single to left, and Sheldon Neuse drove in two more runs with his triple off the fence in right-center field to give the Suns a 7-3 lead.
Neuse tied up Friday’s game with a three-run homer in a five-run bottom of the eighth inning and continued his torrid pace Saturday with a 3-for-4 night at the plate. In his last two games against Lakewood, the 22-year-old shortstop is 5-for-8 with six RBIs and five extra-base hits.
The Suns added insurance in the bottom of the eighth on a Panaccione RBI double to left that scored Nick Banks from second and turned out to be the game-winning hit. Panaccione and Johnson each finished with 2 RBIs for the Suns.
Sam Held inherited a 9-4 lead in the ninth and allowed a two-run homer by Darick Hall and an RBI triple by David Martinelli that cut the Hagerstown lead to 9-7. The tying run came to the plate, but Held induced the game-ending groundout from Luke Williams.
Kyle Simonds (Win, 4-0) picked up the win after giving up one run on one hit through 1 1/3 innings. Carlos Pena started the contest with four shutout innings. He allowed a solo homer to Enmanuel Garcia in the fifth and handed the torch to Phil Morse in the sixth. Making his second relief appearance since joining the Suns on June 4, Morse gave up two earned runs in 1 2/3 innings.
After winning the first two games of this pivotal series, the Suns now lead the SAL Northern Division by 2 1/2 games over the Greensboro Grasshoppers with just nine games left to decide the first-half champion and automatic playoff qualifier. Lakewood entered the weekend in second place but is now sitting fourth, 3 1/2 games behind Hagerstown.
On Sunday, the Suns and BlueClaws meet again in their third of four games during Pink Weekend in Hagerstown. Suns strikeout leader Tyler Watson (4-2, 3.39) goes to the mound at 2:05 p.m. against Lakewood teenager Sixto Sanchez (1-2, 3.70).
Sunday: Following a pair of late-game comebacks, the Suns tallied just one run on four hits against a trio of Lakewood pitchers in a 7-1 loss on Sunday afternoon at Municipal Stadium.
18-year-old flamethrower Sixto Sanchez (Win, 2-2) held Hagerstown hitless into the fifth inning when Jake Noll reached base with a one-out single. The Suns tallied three more hits in the eighth inning and Blake Perkins cut the Lakewood lead to 4-1 with a two-out, RBI double, but the Suns never drew closer as the BlueClaws plated three more runs in the ninth.
Steven Fuentes (Loss, 2-2) replaced Suns starter Tyler Watson , who left after tossing just 45 pitches and stranding the bases loaded in the second. Fuentes again left the bases full of BlueClaws in the third, but David Martinelli broke through with an RBI double in the fourth and hit a towering, three-run homer over the bullpen in right-center field that put Lakewood up 4-0 in the sixth.
Edgar Cabral finished 3-for-4 at the plate for Lakewood including an RBI single against Hagerstown reliever Jacob Howell in the ninth. In his second appearance with the Suns this year, Howell allowed three earned runs while pitching the final three innings.
No Suns hitters recorded a multi-hit game on Sunday and the South Atlantic League’s best offense struck out 13 times.
Following the loss, Hagerstown’s lead atop the SAL Northern Division dropped to 1 1/2 games over the Greensboro Grasshoppers with eight games left to decide the first-half champion and automatic playoff qualifier. Lakewood entered the weekend in second place but is now sitting fourth, 2 1/2 games behind Hagerstown.
On Monday, Hagerstown will try to win the four-game series against Lakewood at 2:05 p.m. with All-Star lefty McKenzie Mills (5-2, 2.30) drawing the start against BlueClaws southpaw Ranger Suarez (4-1, 1.72).
Monday: Suns pitchers McKenzie Mills and Tommy Peterson held the Lakewood BlueClaws to two runs on four hits and three Hagerstown runs in the third inning were enough to win the series finale, 3-2, on Monday afternoon at Municipal Stadium.
The Suns (37-26) took three of four games from Lakewood, pushing their South Atlantic League Northern Division lead to two games over the Greensboro Grasshoppers with just seven games left to play before a first-half division champion is decided at the All-Star break.
Hagerstown rallied against All-Star lefty Ranger Suarez (Loss, 4-2) in the second inning. With the bases loaded and one out, Anderson Franco lined a double to center, scoring Jake Noll and Nick Banks while Jakson Reetz advanced to third. The next batter, Angelo LaBruna, laid down a sacrifice bunt on the first pitch and scored Reetz to make it 3-1 Suns.
Mills (Win, 6-2) allowed a solo homer to Lakewood cleanup hitter Darick Hall in the top of the second before setting down the next 12 batters in order. Raul Rivas tallied an RBI groundout against him in the sixth, but Mills left with the lead after six complete innings and four strikeouts with three hits allowed.
Peterson (Save, 3) took over in the seventh and tossed his best relief outing since rejoining the Suns on May 10. He struck out four of the first six batters he faced and despite a high flyball from Henri Lartigue that just hooked foul with two outs in the top of the ninth, Peterson bounced back to induce the game-ending groundout, finishing with just one hit allowed in three scoreless innings.
Following Monday’s victory in their final home game of the first half, the Suns will try to clinch their fifth division title in the last six years during a seven-game road trip. Hagerstown opens a four-game series in Kannapolis, North Carolina on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. with right-handed starter Sterling Sharp (3-3, 3.62) facing fellow righty Jimmy Lambert (6-2, 2.39) for the Intimidators, who currently sit third in the Northern Division race, two-and-a-half games behind Hagerstown.
The Suns open the second half of the SAL season at home on June 22 against the Greensboro Grasshoppers at 7:05 p.m.