Tuesday night’s action in the Pirates’ lower minor leagues:
West Virginia Power 5, Charleston RiverDogs 1
Colton Cain took his second win of the season, allowing 3 hits and one run over 5 innings, with one walk and 3 strikeouts. Cain had some trouble in the 1st inning, when a lead-off single, a sacrifice bunt, and an RBI single drove in a run for Charleston. After a walk, Cain got the next batter to fly out to center, where a nice throw from CF Mel Rojas to 3B Eric Avila ended the inning. Cain retired the next 10 batters in order, then gave up a double in the 5th inning. He struck out two batters to end his evening’s work.
The Power batters gave Cain all the run support he needed in the top of the 2nd. With one out, DH Jairo Marquez lined a double into right field, then went to third base when C Elias Diaz reached base on a fielding error. Diaz stole second base, then LF Rogelios Noris singled into right field, plating Marquez. Noris advanced to second base on the throw in from the outfield, which put him into position to score behind Diaz on Avila’s 2-RBI single. The Power added a run in the 3rd for a 4-1 lead. RF Dan Grovatt singled, then 1B Justin Howard’s double advanced Grovatt to third. Rojas picked up the RBI with a ground out, scoring Grovatt.
Kevin Decker relieved Cain to begin the 6th inning. He pitched 3 perfect innings, including 3 strikeouts. Brooks Pounders took the 9th inning and allowed only a single in his scoreless inning.
Charleston committed errors in both the 4th and the 5th innings, but the Power were not able to take advantage of those errors to score. The Power scored one more run in the 9th, when Marquez bed off with a single, and was bunted to second by Diaz. Noris’ ground out moved Diaz to third, and he scored on a wild pitch.
Bradenton Marauders 6, Charlotte Stone Crabs 2
Three 2-run innings gave the Marauders enough fire power to get past the Stone Crabs and salvage the last game of this 3-game series. Starter Kyle McPherson earned his second win of the season, allowing 2 runs on 4 hits, no walks, in 7 innings of work. The 7 innings matched his two previous longest starts this season. Both of the Stone Crabs’ runs came early in the game. In the bottom of the 1st, a lead-off triple and an RBI ground out put the first run on the board. A solo home run brought in the second run in the 2nd inning. McPherson also gave up a double in the 1st, and a single in the 5th, and he hit one batter in the 3rd inning. He finished strong by retiring the last 7 batters he faced, four of them on strikeouts.
The Marauders went into the 4th inning behind by a score of 2-0. The only batter to reach base in the first three innings was SS Benji Gonzalez, who singled with two outs in the 3rd, but was picked off second base. But the bats started booming in the 4th, beginning with a double into left field by RF Robbie Grossman and a triple by 2B Jarek Cunningham, scoring Grossman. CF Evan Chambers’ ground out single drove in Cunningham to tie the game.
3B Kelson Brown singled and Benji Gonzalez walked in the 5th inning, but a double play ended that attempt at a rally. Cunningham and Chambers opened the 6th with back-to-back singles, and a missed catch error by the Charlotte shortstop on a pick-off attempt let both runners move up a base. A fielding error by the second baseman on the next play off the bat of 1B Aaron Baker allowed both Cunningham and Chambers to score. The Marauders took a 4-2 lead. Baker added 2 more insurance runs in the 8th inning with a 2-run home run shot over the right field wall. He brought in Grossman, who had reached base on a fielding error at third base.
The Stone Crabs did not score again after the 2nd inning. Diego Moreno relieved McPherson to begin the 8th inning, and he walked one, gave up a single, and struck out two, keeping Charlotte scoreless. Ryan Beckman took the 9th, and he also pitched a scoreless inning, with one walk.
Saturday evening action with the Pirates’ lower minor league affiliates:
Richmond Flying Squirrels 5, Altoona Curve 0
Strong pitching by Richmond and one big inning for the Squirrels’ batters combined for another Curve loss. The Curve were held to just two hits — one each by 3B Jeremy Farrell and C Tony Sanchez. Five walks did not help either, as the Curve left 7 runners on base. 1B Miles Durham was the only base runner for Altoona over the first 3 innings, when he walked in the 3rd. LF Quincy Latimore walked with one out in the 4th. He was forced out at second on SS Jordy Mercer’s ground out. Mercer reached third base when Farrell slipped a single through the left side of the infield, but both runners were left stranded.
Farrell walked and Sanchez singled with one out in the 7th, but a double play ended that attempt at a rally. The Curve’s biggest threat came in the 9th inning, when with two outs, Mercer was hit by a pitch, then Farrell and Sanchez worked back-to-back walks. A pop up to the catcher in foul territory by Durham ended the game with all three still on base.
Three errors by the Curve fielders did not help out their pitchers, who gave up a combined 11 hits. Starter Aaron Thompson worked around a pair of two-out singles in the 1st, then struck out three batters around a walk in the 2nd. Then things fell apart in the 3rd. The inning began with three consecutive singles, loading the bass. The next batter grounded to short, but Mercer’s fielding fumble left everyone safe, and the lead runner scored. Thompson looked like he had a chance to get out of the inning without further damage when he got the next two batters with a fly out and a strikeout. But a bases-clearing double into left field made the score 4-0. The throw in from LF Latimore was relayed from the cutoff man Mercer to Farrell at third, who tagged out the batter at third as he tried to stretch the double into a triple.
Thompson kept the Squirrels from scoring in the 4th, despite a fielding error by CF Starling Marte and another single. A lead-off single began the 5th inning, and a throwing error by Sanchez on a steal attempt put the runner on third base. Thompson struck out two batters, then was relieved by Anthony Claggett, who ended the inning with a ground out, leaving that runner on third. Claggett pitched a scoreless 6th, but gave up a run in the 7th on a hit batter and an RBI double. Two walks after the double loaded the bases, but Claggett escaped the inning with a ground out. Chris Leroux took over for the bottom of the 8th. He also gave up a double and hit a batter, but did not allow a run. Thompson took the loss, going 4.2 innings with 4 runs (one earned) on 8 hits with 7 strikeouts.
The Pirates’ lower minor league affiliates wrap up the month of April:
Erie SeaWolves 5, Altoona Curve 0
The Curve were held to just 3 hits, plus two walks, as they were shut-out by the SeaWolves. Their first hit of the game came in the 2nd inning, when 3B Jeremy Farrell singled, then moved to second base on a wild pitch. The inning ended with Farrell being forced out at third base. Altoona had their biggest threat with two runners on base in the 3rd inning — a line drive single into left field by RF Eric Fryer and a walk to DH Jose Hernandez. A ground out put both runners into scoring position, but they too were left stranded. The Curve went down in order until LF Quincy Latimore’s single in the 6th. 1B Miles Durham was the only base runner for Altoona in the last three innings, when he walked in the 7th.
Jeff Locke made the start for the Curve. He pitched 6 innings but was the victim of some errors in the field behind him. He gave up one earned run but 4 unearned runs, and was charged with the loss. Erie’s earned run came in the 2nd inning, on a double, a walk, and an RBI single. The second base runner who tried to score was gunned down at the plate on a throw in from Fryer in right field to C Tony Sanchez. The top of the 4th inning began with a single, and the next batter grounded to short for what should have been a double play. But a missed catch error by 2B Brock Holt left both runners safe. A walk loaded the bases, and a grounder allowed the lead runner to score. A triple drove in two more runs, to give Erie a 4-0 lead. Erie began the 6th inning with a double and a single, and with two outs, a fielding error by Farrell at third allowed another unearned run to score.
Tim Alderson relieved Locke and pitched 3 hitless and scoreless innings. The only batter to reach base against Alderson was hit by a pitch, then erased in a double play.
Altoona Curve 8, Erie SeaWolves 6
Two big innings gave the Curve enough runs to withstand a late-inning rally by the SeaWolves and take the win to open this series. The Curve got started with a two-out rally which scored 4 runs in the bottom of the 2nd. After a line out and a ground out, C Tony Sanchez and DH Kris Watts both walked. 1B Miles Durham and RF Brad Chalk then hit back-to-back doubles, with Durham driving in one run and Watts adding two. 2B Brock Holt reached base on a fielding error at shortstop, moving Chalk to third base. Chalk scored on a balk, giving the Curve a 4-0 lead. They added 3 more runs in the 5th, beginning with Holt’s lead-off single through the hole into right field. CF Starling Marte dropped down a sacrifice bunt to moved Holt to second base. Three consecutive singles, by LF Quincy Latimore, Mercer, and 3B Jeremy Farrell brought in one run (Mercer’s RBI). After a pitching change, Sanchez made it four straight singles with a liner into center field, scoring Latimore and Mercer. The Curve added one more insurance run in the 7t, on a single by Latimore and an RBI double by Mercer.
Aaron Pribanic made the start for the Curve and earned his second win of the season. He pitched 5 scoreless innings, allowing 4 hits and a walk. Two of the hits, a single and a double, came in the 3rd inning, and were followed by a bouncer back to the mound, which Pribanic returned to Sanchez, who tagged out the lead runner at the plate. Two more singles came in the 4th, and both of those runners were left on base. Brian Leach pitched the 6th and 7th innings and gave up a run in each. A walk and a triple plated the run in the 6th, and a walk, a single, and two ground outs brought in the run in the 7th. Tom Boleska began the 8th inning, and got into trouble right away. Two walks and a double loaded the bases, and a sacrifice fly scored one run. After another walk, Boleska was relieved by Noah Krol. The first batter Krol faced doubled into left field for 2 runs, and a hit batter and an RBI ground out gave Erie the fourth run of the inning. Krol ended the rally with a strikeout, then retired the SeaWolves in order in the 9th to earn his 6th Save of the season.