West Virginia’s offense broke out tonight, scoring six runs in the 4th inning but couldn’t hold on to a 7-3 lead against Lakewood due to some poor pitching from a very unlikely source. The Power lost 10-7 and the two teams split the four game series with the Power taking the first and third games.
Eliecer Navarro got the start tonight despite not being listed as the starter. As I said last night, I saw Porfirio Lopez get up in the pen so I had my doubts about him actually making the start tonight. He again got up in the pen at one point tonight without actually pitching. I’ve now seen Navarro pitch three times and he pretty much looks the same each time, sits high 80’s with his fastball and gets some good results with his off-speed pitches but can be very hittable at times.
The next pitcher in was Colton Cain and I was hoping to see him finish out the game after Navarro went five and left him with a four run lead. Cain had gone 4 innings his last outing with no runs allowed so I expected with a decent outing he would repeat that total. What I didn’t expect was an outing by Cain that you could say he was fortunate to allow only 7 earned runs in just 1.2 innings.
The first batter he faced laced a double to the right field gap. One pitch later he had given up his first run on a single up the middle. The next batter up went down looking but not before crushing a long foul ball that missed going fair by a few feet. I wrote last year that Jarek Cunningham hit the furthest ball I had ever seen at that ballpark in Lakewood, this ball was probably hit just as far. Cain gave up another single before Mel Rojas Jr saved him more damage with a great running catch in center field right at the wall. The next batter drove in both base runners with a double off the top of the wall to make it 7-6, which is where it ended after six innings.
The 7th inning for Cain was just as ugly, four more hard hit balls chased him from the game with a 9-7 deficit. Brooks Pounders came in and gave up a bloop that landed just in front of a diving Justin Bencsko, making it 10-7 and closing the book on Cain. You don’t know how long they would’ve stuck with Cain but without the great play by Rojas and the ball that went just foul, his line could’ve looked much worse.
The worst part may have been that all this damage came on just 30 pitches thrown. Cain threw a lot of strikes, 23 to be exact and he was throwing a lot of off-speed pitch but his fastball was very mediocre, hitting as low as 84 once and topping out once at 90 with a lot of 85’s mixed in.
Brooks Pounders finished the game and looked the same as he did the other night. He was throwing hard, 92-93 but he was throwing a ton of pitches to get his outs. He was pounding the inside of the plate and he had batters flinching on his breaking balls but many of his pitches just missed the zone so his final line with 3 walks, a hit batter and a hit allowed in just 1.1 IP doesn’t look so good.
The Power scored a run in the 1st inning due to the hustle of Andy Vasquez and some poor throws by the Lakewood fielders. He led off with an infield single, stole 2B right after that, went to 3B on a poor throw from the catcher, then another poor throw from center field allowed him to score all the way from 1B on the play.
Lakewood got on the board in the 1st inning on a walk and a 2 run homer by Jim Murphy who tied the team season record for home runs with his 22nd on a long drive to LF. They added another run in the 3rd by a hit by pitch, walk and a bloop single which all came with two outs. That was the only damage Navarro would allow.
West Virginia looked like they broke the game open in the 4th inning when they put up 6 runs thanks in part to some wildness on the mound and more poor fielding by Lakewood. Elias Diaz had the big hit of the inning, a solidly hit triple into the right field gap which cleared the bases. Kevin Mort drove him home with a single and two batters later Andrew Maggi drove in Mort and Bencsko with a single up the middle that made it 7-3 at that point. It was all downhill after that for the Power.
With two series now complete, coming up soon I will give my scouting reports on the pitchers and hitters I saw first in June and now these past four days. I want to thank photographer Lauren Lechner for providing many of the photos for this series and future use.
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.