Power Pitchers Dominate In Early Game; Complete One-Hitter For McPherson

The Power had an early game today, while the Curve and the Marauders are scheduled for the evening:

West Virginia Power  3,  Hickory Crawdads  2  
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Three Power pitchers combined to hold Hickory to just 4 hits in the late-morning start.  Colton Cain earned his 4th win of the season, going 6 innings and allowing 2 runs, only one of which was earned.  He gave up 3 hits and 2 walks, and struck out 5 batters.  Two of those 3 hits came in the top of the 1st — a lead-off single, then after two outs moved the runner to second base, another single when the batter beat out the throw on a grounder to third base.  But Power 1B Justin Howard was paying attention, and he was able to throw from first base back to the plate, where C Elias Diaz tagged out the runner who had rounded third and was trying to score.  

Three consecutive hits began the bottom of the 1st for the Power:  singles by SS Drew Maggi and CF Mel Rojas, and an RBI double by RF Dan Grovatt, who drove in Maggi.  DH Cole White brought in Rojas with an RBI ground out, to give the Power an early 2-1 lead.  

Cain retired the side in order in the 2nd, then began the 3rd by giving up a double.  A sacrifice bunt moved that runner to third base.  The next batter was hit by a pitch, giving Hickory runners on the corners.  Then a wild pitch by Cain and a throwing error on Diaz as he tried to retrieve the ball, let both base runners score, to tie the game.  

The Power put runners on base over the next two innings, but base running problems eliminated the runners — picked off and caught stealing, and being caught off base on a fly out for a double play.  2B Andy Vasquez singled to lead off the 5th, and he too was doubled off first base when Maggi flied out.  Rojas walked after Maggi was out, then Grovatt doubled for the second time in the game, and also drove in his second run, as Maggi gave the Power the lead.  

Cain allowed only 2 walks over his last three innings of work.  Vincent Payne made his first appearance for the Power this season, with 2 scoreless innings.  He retired the side in order in the 7th, then gave up a walk in the 8th, but that runner was caught stealing.  Zac Fuesser pitched the 9th.  He gave up a single, but also picked the runner of first base, and was credited with his first Save.  

The Power had only two base runners over the last 3 innings, when 3B Eric Avila walked and was erased in a double play, and a single by Grovatt, for his third hit of the game, in the 8th.  Grovatt stole second base, but was left on base.   

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2011 Prospect Watching: Cain, Black, And More

Continuing to look at some of the pitchers in the Pirates’ minor league organization:

Colton Cain  –  L/L,  6′ 3″, 225 lb
Cain was the Pirates’ 8th round draft pick in 2009.  He began his pro career in 2010, after having had back surgery in the previous winter.  Cain began with 4 starts for the GCL Pirates, where he earned an 0-1 record and a 3.77 ERA.  In 14.1 innings, he allowed 6 runs on 12 hits and 5 walks, but struck out 15 batters.  He was promoted to State College in July, and appeared in 11 games (9 starts) there.  Two of those starts were very tough, as Cain gave up 6 runs in 2 innings on August 2nd, and 6 runs in 3 innings on August 31st.  The other 9 appearances were much better.  His best was 4 shutout innings on August 20th, when he gave up no hits and just one walk, while striking out 3 batters.  In those other 9 appearances, Cain allowed 7 runs over 29 innings (2.17 ERA), with 9 walks and 31 strikeouts.  Cain, who just turned 20 years old, should be ready to begin 2011 at West Virginia.  He’ll continue to work on fastball command, but also on his changeup.

Victor Black  —  R/R,  6′ 3″,  185 lb 
Black was chosen by the Pirates as a compensation pick between the first and second rounds of the 2009 draft.  He signed quickly and got down to business at State College.  In 13 appearances for the Spikes (7 starts), Black earned a 1-2 record and a 3.45 ERA.  He allowed 12 earned runs and 26 hits in 31.1 innings.  His walk rate was a bit high (15, 4.3 walks / 9 innings), but he also struck out 33 batters (15.4 K / 9 innings).  A shoulder injury and subsequent biceps problem plagued Black in the 2010 season, and he was able to make just 2 appearances for West Virginia in May.  Neither start was what Black would have hoped:  he gave up 3 runs on 2 hits and 2 walks in 4 innings in one, and 2 runs on a hit and 3 walks in 2/3 of an inning in the other.  The 22-year-old Black is healthy and ready to go in spring training for 2011.  He will likely be back to West Virginia, and the Pirates have indicated that they plan to have him pitch in relief, in hopes of limiting the stress on his arm.

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Irwin: Another 7 No-Hit Innings;

Thursday’s action for the Pirates’ lower minor league affiliates:

West Virginia Power� 3,� Rome Braves� 0 …��� (box)

On July 24th, Power starter Phillip Irwin pitched 7 hitless and scoreless innings.� Tonight, he again threw 7 scoreless innings, though this time he scattered 3 hits.� Last time, he walked two batters, and tonight he did not walk any.� Both times, Irwin struck out 8 opponents.� Irwin’s toughest inning tonight was the 4th, when he gave up a double and a single, and hit a batter.� Luckily, the first runner was doubled off second base in a line-out double play.� The other two runners pulled off a double steal, but a strikeout ended the inning with them both still in scoring position.� Irwin retired the next 9 batters in order to finish his evening and earn his 6th win.� Zach Foster earned his 6th save with two scoreless innings of relief, allowing only a walk.

The Power were held to just 5 hits, but they also took advantage of three Rome errors in one inning.� In the 2nd, 1B Aaron Baker began the inning by reaching base on a fielding error.� He moved to second base on a passed ball, but was out at third when RF Andy Vasquez reached on a fielder’s choice.� Vasquez stole second base, and scored on LF Rogelios Noris’ RBI single.� Noris advanced to third base when the Rome pitcher made a throwing error on a pick-off attempt, then scored on C Jairo Marquez’s double, which was also complicated by a fielding error.� Marquez added another run in the 5th, with a solo home run, his second of the season.� Vasquez singled in the 4th inning, but was thrown out trying to steal second base.� SS Benji Gonzalez doubled to lead off the 8th inning, but was left stranded.

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Curve and Spikes Fall Short

Just two late games on Sunday, with one week to go …� The Bradenton Marauders and the West Virginia Power both have a scheduled day off today.

Richmond Flying Squirrels� 5,� Altoona Curve� 4 ..�� (box)

Richmond broke a 4-4 tie with a run in the top of the 9th, and the Curve could not answer back.� With Ramon Aguero on the mound to begin the 9th, a walk and a single put Richmond runners on the corners with no outs.� Aguero got a strikeout, then gave up an RBI single to first.� A double play, 2B Jordy Mercer to SS Chase d’Arnaud to 1B Matt Hague, ended the inning without the Squirrels scoring again.� The Curve got one runner on base in the 9th, when pinch-hitter Jim Negrych singled to lead off the inning.� CF Jose De Los Santos’ sacrifice bunt moved Negrych to second base, but a fly out and a ground out ended the inning before Negrych could get any further.

The Curve had cracked the scoreboard first, with a run in the bottom of the 1st.� D’Arnaud led off with a single, but was out at second on 3B Josh Harrison’s grounder force out.� Harrison stole both second and third base, then scored on C Hector Gimenez’s RBI single.

Richmond took a 2-1 lead in the 2nd, with a lead-off homer.� A fielding error by d’Arnaud, and a single put two runners on base.� Another 4-6-3 double play moved the lead runner to third, and an RBI single drove in the run.� Curve starter Jared Hughes gave up two more runs in the 3rd inning, with a hit batter, a triple, and a double.

The Curve tied the score in the 5th with a walk by Hughes, then back-to-back home runs by Chase d’Arnaud and Josh Harrison.� It was d’Arnaud’s 5th homer of the season, and Harrison’s 4th blast.

Hughes pitched 6 innings and allowed those 4 runs (3 earned) on 6 hits and a walk.� He also struck out 2 batters.� Bryan Morris, in the bullpen to keep his inning count down for the remainder of the season, pitched 2 scoreless innings, allowing a lone single in each and striking out a batter in each.

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Curve Are Two-Hit; Santos And Hernandez Have 3 Hits Each

Some action with the Pirates’ lower minor league affiliates on Wednesday…� still can’t get anything done in Bradenton this evening, though the GCL Pirates did get their game in this afternoon.

Erie SeaWolves� 3,� Altoona Curve� 1 …�� (box)

The Curve were held to just 2 hits as they lost to the SeaWolves at home.� The Curve got two walks, one of which resulted in their only run, and they also had a runner reach on a fielding error.� 1B Matt Hague had the first Curve hit, a two-out single in the 4th inning.� 2B Jordy Mercer walked in the 2nd inning, and RF Miles Durham reached on a fielding error to begin the 8th inning.� None of them got as far as second base.� Finally, in the bottom of the 9th, SS Chase d’Arnaud led off with the second walk, and then he stole second base (his 32nd steal of the season).� DH Andrew Lambo lined a double into left field, scoring d’Arnaud with the Curve’s lone run.

Justin Wilson pitched 4 innings in his start, and gave up all three of the SeaWolves’ runs, on 6 hits and 3 walks, with 6 strikeouts.� He surrendered a run in the 2nd inning on three singles.� Another single and a double brought in one run in the 4th.� Wilson walked the next batter, then got a grounder to short for what looked like it would be an inning-ending double play.� The out was made at second, but Mercer’s throw to first was not on target, and the batter was safe, which allowed the runner who had doubled to score from second base.

Mike Colla relieved Wilson to begin the 5th inning.� He gave up a walk to former teammate Brandon Jones to lead off the 5th, then erased him in a double play.� Colla allowed only one base runner in the rest of his four innings, a double to lead off the 7th inning.� Ramon Aguero pitched a perfect top of the 9th, with one strikeout.

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