The Bradenton Marauders didn’t get their fourth walk-off win in a row, but they did get their fourth win in a row. It wasn’t as dramatic as the last few games, with Bradenton taking an early lead and holding that lead through the end of the game.
Nick Kingham got off to a rough start in the first inning, giving up two runs on three hits. He was up in the zone, and wasn’t executing his pitches when he got into two strike counts, preventing him from putting batters away.
After that rough first inning, Kingham settled down and was dominant over the next four innings. He was 92-95 MPH with his fastball, pounded the zone to the tune of 57 strikes in 83 pitches, and got a lot of first pitch strikes. Kingham ended the night with two runs on six hits in five innings, with no walks and six strikeouts.
“I feel like the fastball opened up everything for me tonight,” Kingham said. “I was able to throw my curveball and changeup when I needed to. I got ahead with it. That is why I think I had success tonight. And then early in the game, the first inning, I got ahead of guys but just didn’t put them away. That kind of got me into trouble in the first inning, but I settled down the rest of the game.”
Struggling early in the game and then settling down for the final innings has been a trend for Bradenton pitchers this year. Manager Frank Kremblas chalked it up to growing pains with young guys in high-A. He also noted that Kingham did a much better job of pitching inside after the first, pushing batters off the plate and opening up the outer half.
“He did a better job of pitching in after the first inning,” Kremblas said. “That’s what, sometimes you need to do to give yourself a little room. Knock some feet out of the way, get guys lifting their arms, and they can’t quite chop [on the outside half of the plate] sometimes.”
Kingham got some help this evening from the hot hitting Jose Osuna. The first baseman capped off a four run inning in the third, launching a two run homer to put the Marauders up 4-2 at the time. The inning started with a one out walk from Chris Lashmet. He moved to third on an Alen Hanson double down the right field line, which just stayed fair. Lashmet scored on an error by third baseman Ryan Fisher, and Hanson scored to tie the game on a sacrifice fly by Gregory Polanco. That’s when Osuna came up with two outs and a man on first and crushed the first pitch he saw to left field.
Osuna also came up big in the fifth inning, giving the Marauders an insurance run. Alen Hanson started the inning with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from Junior Sosa, and moved to third on an infield single to second by Gregory Polanco. That’s when Osuna stepped to the plate and pulled a double down the left field line, bringing in Hanson to make it 5-2.
Osuna finished 3-for-4 on the night with a double and a homer. He also had an infield single later in the game. In his last ten games he’s been hitting the ball hard, and is 13-for-35 with a double and two homers.
“He’s being a little more patient, and of course he’s getting a little bit more confidence as he gets the hits, which is nice,” Kremblas said. He also added that Osuna is doing a better job with pitch selection, which is leading to the recent hitting.
Robert Kilcrease came on and gave up an unearned run in two innings, due to a Chris Lashmet error in the seventh inning. Zach Thornton came on to close out the game with a two inning save. He ran into some trouble late in the game. With two outs in the ninth, Thornton induced a grounder to first, but didn’t step on the base after Osuna flipped him the ball. He followed that up with a single to put the tying run on. After a visit to the mound by pitching coach Justin Meccage, Thornton went after Jupiter’s cleanup hitter, Ryan Fisher, and struck him out on three pitches to wrap up the win.