The GCL Pirates scored a run in the bottom of the 8th to break a 2-2 tie and went on to defeat the GCL Braves, 3-2. Edwin Espinal singled to drive in Harold Ramirez — who had reached on a two-out infield hit and stolen second — with the winning run. Espinal’s hit backed strong pitching from starter Axel Diaz and reliever Isaac Sanchez, who got the win.
Longballs Leave Game Tied
The Bucs took the lead in the 3rd when catcher Wyatt Mathisen, this year’s second round draft pick, connected for his first professional HR, a wind-aided, opposite-field shot. The HR earned Mathisen the silent treatment from his teammates when he first returned to the bench.
Starter Axel Diaz threw four shutout innings, but the Braves took the lead in the 6th against lefty Andy Otamendi, with the help of some shaky defense. After a two-out single, the next hitter lined a ball to second baseman Dilson Herrera. Herrera blocked the ball on the short hop, but didn’t keep it in front of him and it went for a single to put runners on first and second. The next hitter lined a routine single to left, but left fielder Ramirez overran the ball, then picked it up and dropped it. This allowed both runners to score, although the play was inexplicably ruled a double.
Third baseman Eric Wood tied the game for the Bucs with his 4th HR, a drive over the 410 foot sign just to the right of the batter’s eye. Wood’s shot also was aided by a stiff breeze that blew toward right throughout the game. Isaac Sanchez came on in the 7th and threw three scoreless innings, getting the Bucs the win with the help of Espinal’s hit.
Other Player Notes
— Despite throwing from opposite sides, Diaz and Otamendi have very similar repertoires, except that the righty Diaz throws a little harder. His fastball was 89-91 in the 1st inning, mostly 87-90 afterward. He threw a mid-70s curve to right-handed batters and a low-80s change to left-handed batters. The curve appeared to be the better pitch. Otamendi threw 86-89, with a similar curve and change, except of course he threw the curve to lefties and the change to righties. Both pitchers worked inside and out effectively, keeping the ball away from the middle of the plate. They were helped (as were the Braves’ pitchers) by a generous strike zone.
— Sanchez threw harder than the other pitchers, with his fastball ranging from 90-95, hitting 97 once. His control was shakier and he got some pitches up and over the plate. He also threw a mid-70s curve that he didn’t control well.
— Moroff and Mathisen both worked the count effectively and each drew a walk. Moroff especially got into deep counts consistently and also hit two line drive singles. Mathisen, apart from the HR, hit two balls well that were caught. Both played well defensively, with Moroff making three good plays on balls in the air. One was a diving catch of a soft liner in the hole. Mathisen had no problems behind the plate, although none of the Bucs’ pitchers was especially challenging, as none had particularly sharp breaking stuff.
— Wood showed a good arm in making a throw from foul territory behind third for the out at first. Herrera made a good play on a grounder up the middle and also hit a couple of balls hard that were caught.
— DH Stetson Allie and right fielder Luis Urena mostly struggled to make contact at the plate. Allie takes a big swing and simply misses a lot. Urena struggled with breaking balls. Urena made a diving catch in right, although the dive was necessitated by him getting a late break on the ball.