Sunday’s action in the Pirates’ lower minor leagues:
West Virginia Power 7, Augusta Green Jackets 0
Three Power pitchers powered up to shut out the Green Jackets. Colton Cain made the start and earned his first win of the season. He allowed just one hit and one walk in 6 innings. Cain retired the first 9 Augusta batters in order, then gave up both the hit (a double) and a walk to begin the bottom of the 4th. A double play and a pop out got Cain out of that little jam, then he retired 6 more batters to end his outing. Kevin Decker allowed a single in each of his two innings, but maintained the shutout. Ryan Beckman gave up two singles in the 9th, but left both on base to end the game.
The Power began their scoring with an unearned run in the top of the 2nd. C Elias Diaz reached on a fielding error in right field, then advanced to third base on RF Dan Grovatt’s single. 2B Kevin Mort brought Diaz in with a sacrifice fly. Grovatt led off the 5th with a walk. He was forced out at second on Mort’s grounder, though Mort avoided the double play and was safe at first. LF Andy Vasquez plated Mort with a triple into right field.
The 6th was the big inning for the Power. CF Mel Rojas and 1B Matt Curry started the frame with back-to-back singles, and after two outs, Diaz walked to load the bases. Another walk to Grovatt forced in Rojas, then Mort drove in Curry and Diaz with a line drive single into center field. The Power tacked on another run in the 7th, when SS Gift Ngoepe doubled, Rojas singled (his third hit of the game), and a fielder’s choice on Curry’s ball let Ngoepe score. It was Curry’s turn to double in the 9th, and he scored on Avila’s RBI single.
The Altoona Curve and the Richmond Flying Squirrels were rained out in Altoona tonight. They will make up the game in August.
West Virginia Power 8, Augusta 5
The Power scored in each of the first 4 innings to stay ahead of the Augusta Green Jackets on Saturday evening. 2B Drew Maggi got the game off to a good start with a double into right field. 1B Matt Curry walked, then with Maggi off and running, a ground out by 3B Eric Avila let Maggi score. RF Justin Howard drove in Curry with a single into center field. Augusta got one of the runs back in the bottom of the 1st with a triple and an RBI ground out off starter Tyler Waldron.
Back-to-back singles by DH Elias Diaz and C Kawika Emsley-Pai opened the top of the 2nd, and gave the Power runners on the corners. A passed ball let Diaz score. SS Gift Ngoepe walked, but was out in a grounder force out, as Maggi got to first in time to avoid the double play. Another grounder forced out Maggi at second, but CF Mel Rojas also beat out the throw to first, and Emsley-Pai scored. Augusta also scored one run in the bottom of the inning, on a bases-loaded RBI ground out.
The Power took a big step ahead in the 3rd. Avila led off with a double, and after two outs, four consecutive singles drove in 3 runs. Diaz plated Avila, and Emsley-Pai plated Diaz; Ngoepe’s single put two runners on, and Maggi’s single scored Emsley-Pai. Another single by Avila and a fielding error on a fly into center field by Howard gave the Power an unearned run in the 4th.
Augusta kept tacking on runs, but one at a time — a solo homer in the 4th, and a run on two singles and a sacrifice fly in the 5th. Waldron pitched 5 innings and allowed 4 runs on 8 hits and a walk, with 4 strikeouts. He was relieved by Zach Foster to begin the 6th. Foster pitched 3 hitless and scoreless innings and hit one batter, who was promptly caught stealing by Emsley-Pai. Jason Townsend pitched the 9th and gave up the final Augusta run, on two singles, a passed ball, and an RBI ground out.
Waldron earned his second win of the season. Emsley-Pai went 3-for-4, with an RBI and 2 runs scored. Besides the singles in the 2nd and 3rd, he also singled in the 8th inning, but was left on base. Maggi, Avila, and Diaz all had 2 hits in the game.
Losses all around in the Pirates’ minor league organization:
Augusta Green Jackets 5, West Virginia Power 3
A 4-run 2nd inning by Augusta had the Power trying to catch up for most of the game. With Zack Dodson getting the start, Augusta scored on two singles, a throwing error by 3B Eric Avila, a 2 RBI triple, and an RBI ground out. Only two of the runs were earned. Dodson retired the side in two other innings, and walked two batters in the 4th. The Power posted 8 hits (to Augusta’s 5 hits), and put runners on base in each of their first four innings but could not bring any of them around to score. The top of the 5th began with back-to-back singles by LF Rogelios Noris and SS Gift Ngoepe. 2B Drew Maggi dropped down a sacrifice bunt, but a missed catch error by the Augusta first baseman put Maggi safe on first, moved Ngoepe to third, and allowed Noris to score. Ngoepe scored on an RBI ground out.
Dodson was relieved by Brooks Pounders to begin the bottom of the 5th. Pounders surrendered another unearned run, on two singles, a passed ball, and a wild pitch in the 5th. He retired the side in order in both the 7th and 8th innings. Ryan Beckman retired the side in order in the 8th inning.
The Power continued to put runners on base in each inning, and they scored again in the 8th. RF Dan Grovatt walked, moved to second base on a ground out, and scored on DH Justin Howard’s line drive single into left field. Ngoepe also singled in the 3rd inning. CF Mel Rojas singled three times: in the 1st, the 3rd, and the 7th. He also stole second base in the 1st.
Three wins for the Pirates’ lower minor league teams on Tuesday:
Altoona Curve 2, Akron Aeros 0
Starter Bryan Morris threw 6 shutout innings to lead the Curve over the Aeros in Akron. Morris scattered 4 hits and a walk, while striking out 3 for his first win of the season. The only real trouble he had was in the bottom of the 1st, when rehabbing Grady Sizemore began the inning with a walk. After two grounder force outs, a single, Akron had runners on first and second. A single lined into center field had the runner from second charging for home, but CF Starling Marte fired in to C Eric Fryer, who tagged out the runner at the plate. Morris sailed through his remaining 5 innings, allowing just two more hits — singles in the 2nd and the 5th. Brian Leach, Michael Dubee, and Noah Krol each pitched one scoreless inning of relief. Leach and Dubee each allowed one walk, but Dubee struck out the other three batters he faced. Krol earned his second Save of the season.
Both of the Curve’s runs scored in the 3rd inning. 3B Jeremy Farrell began the rally by being hit by a pitch. Fryer singled, and RF Jose Hernandez sacrifice bunted both runners into scoring position. 2B Brock Holt grounded to first, but a fielding error let him reach safely and gave Farrell the chance to score. An RBI grounder by Marte brougth in Fryer with the second run. Marte stole second base and moved to third on a wild pitch, but the inning ended before he could come around to score.
Marte singled after Holt walked in the 5th inning, and both Farrell and Fryer singled in the 7th, but neither of those threats yielded any runs. Farrell lined into right field in the 9th, and rounded second easily, but was thrown out when he tried to stretch it into a triple. He would have scored if he’d stopped at second, because Fryer followed with his own double. Fryer was 3-for-4 in the game, and Farrell went 2-for-3.
All of the Pirates’ minor league affiliates lost their season openers on Thursday night:
Erie SeaWolves 3, Altoona Curve 2
One run in the bottom of the 9th made the difference, as the Curve lost in Erie, PA. The SeaWolves were first onto the scoreboard with a pair of runs in the 5th inning. Curve starter Bryan Morris had already escaped from two jams in the early innings. In the 2nd, RF Brad Chalk threw out a runner who was trying to stretch a double into a triple, then Chalk ended the inning when he threw to C Tony Sanchez to nail a runner who was trying to score from second base on a single. Morris loaded the bases in the 4th with a single and two walks, but a timely double play, 3B Jeremy Farrell to 2B Brock Holt, to 1B Miles Durham, ended that inning without a run scoring. Morris’ luck ran out in the 5th, though, when a walk and a 2-run homer gave Erie a 2-0 lead.
The Curve missed a scoring opportunity in the top of the 2nd, when Sanchez singled into left field, and LF Quincy Latimore lined a double just out of the reach of the Erie left fielder. But with runners on second and third, Erie starter Jacob Turner struck out both Farrell and DH Eric Fryer to end the inning. Turner allowed only two base runners for the next 4 innings — he walked Holt, and he hit Sanchez with a pitch. (Sanchez has got to stop being a magnet for opposing pitchers’ pitches.) After Turner left the game, the Curve were able to put men on base again. Farrell singled and Fryer walked in the 7th, though they didn’t score. The 8th inning began with back-to-back walks to Holt and CF Starling Marte. SS Jordy Mercer bunted them over to second and third, then another walk to Sanchez loaded the bases. Latimore came through again, with another double off the left field wall, missing a grand slam by inches, to plate both Holt and Marte and tie the game at 2-2.
Reliever Anthony Claggett finished the 5th inning for Morris with a strikeout and a pickoff of one of the runners Morris had put on base. Aaron Pribanic and Jared Hughes each pitched a perfect inning, with one strikeout for Pribanic and two for Hughes. Michael Dubee struck out the side in the 8th inning to preserve the tie. The Curve batters could not get anything going in the top of the 9th, though, and Dubee came back out to pitch the bottom of the 9th. With one out, a single and a stolen base put a runner in scoring position, and a ground out moved him to third base. Then a sinking line drive, just inches away from the diving Latimore’s glove, fell in for a hit, scoring the runner from third base for the walk-off win.
Dubee was charged with the loss. Morris got a no-decision, with 2 runs on 4 hits and 5 walks, plus 3 strikeouts, in 4.1 innings. The Curve had just 4 hits, two of them doubles by Latimore.