Much-needed win: Odrisamer Despaigne pitched seven quality innings for the Knights, who now take a one-game lead over the Durham Bulls with two games remaining. (Laura Wolff/Charlotte Knights)
Odrisamer Despaigne (SP) W (8-6), QS, 7 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 9 K, HR (3.47 ERA, 1.34 WHIP)
Jose Ruiz (RP) SV (7), 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K (0.69 ERA, 1.00 WHIP)
Luis Robert (CF) 2-for-5, R, CS (3) (.302 BA, .977 OPS)
Nick Madrigal (2B) 2-for-3, 2 R, BB (.303 BA, .783 OPS)
Yermin Mercedes (DH) 2-for-4, R, 2B (10), HR (16), 3 RBI (58) (.300 BA, 1.001 OPS) **MVP**
Zack Collins (C) 0-for-2, RBI (74), BB, E (7) (.289 BA, .969 OPS)
Danny Mendick (SS) 2-for-4, 2B (25), RBI (64), K (.281 BA, .819 OPS)
Seby Zavala (1B) 0-for-4, K (.222 BA, .774 OPS)
Charlie Tilson (RF) 1-for-4 (.289 BA, .752 OPS)
Trey Michalczewski (3B) 0-for-2, BB, K (.232 BA, .715 OPS)
Ramon Torres (PR-SS) 0-for-1, R (.355 BA, 1.009 OPS)
After a one-out single by future White Sox second sacker Nick Madrigal, Yermín Mercedes ripped a double down the left-field line, giving the Knights a 1-0 lead in the first inning of this pivotal International League contest. Austin Hays of the Tides tied the game with a solo shot off Odrisamer Despaigne in the second. The game wouldn’t stay tied for long, however, as Mercedes hit a clothesline just over the left-field fence with Madrigal aboard to give the Knights a much-needed 3-1 cushion.
After a Jack Reinhemer sac fly tightened the score to 3-2, both starters knuckled down as the Knights maintained their slim, one-run margin until the top of the seventh. With Trey Michalczewski and Luis Robert leading off the inning with a walk and single respectively, Madrigal did the Sox-ish thing by sacrificing them over to scoring position. After the Tides walked the scalding-hot Mercedes to load the bases, Zack Collins grounded into an run-scoring fielder’s choice at second to give the Knights an important insurance run. Danny Mendick supplied yet another insurance run to give the Knights a 6-3 cushion, although Collins was gunned down at the plate trying to add a seventh run. Despaigne left the game after this seventh frame, but not without providing the Knights with a much-needed quality start and three-run lead.
José Ruiz pitched a scoreless eighth inning, and began the final frame by getting the first two hitters out — including former White Sox José Rondón. However, Ruiz loaded the bases by allowing the next three hitters to get on via two singles and a walk. Ruiz was able to induce Mason Williams to fly out to Robert, securing his seventh Knight save, and a tense one at that!
With a Knights victory and an extra-inning loss by the Durham Bulls, the Knights take a one-game lead in the International League standings with two games remaining. Several players came up huge in this game: Despaigne with his seven clutch innings, Madrigal getting on base three times via two singles and a walk (not to mention a pivotal sac bunt), Robert with two hits and a run scored and Ruiz. Mercedes merits the MVP for this game, however, thanks to his two extra-base hits and three RBIs which set the tone for this game. As an interesting side note, Mercedes now has 58 RBIs in just 51 games for Charlotte this season. The Knights stemmed the Tides by snapping their six-game losing streak, improving to 75-62. Norfolk dipped to 58-79 with their defeat.
Blake Battenfield (SP) 5 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HR (4.52 ERA, 1.37 WHIP)
Alec Hansen (RP) 2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 4 K (5.45 ERA, 2.02 WHIP)
Mauricio Cabrera (RP) 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K (4.60 ERA, 2.04 WHIP)
Codi Heuer (RP) 2 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K (1.84 ERA, 1.09 WHIP)
Luis Martinez (RP) W (5-2) 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (4.26 ERA, 1.29 WHIP)
Luis Gonzalez (CF) 0-for-3 (.251 BA, .682 OPS)
Luis Basabe (LF) 2-for-5, R, RBI (29), BB, 2 K (.247 BA, .667 OPS)
Blake Rutherford (DH) 2-for-4, R, 2 BB, 2 K (.265 BA, .682 OPS)
Gavin Sheets (1B) 0-for-4, RBI (83), BB, K (.268 BA, .760 OPS)
Joel Booker (RF) 1-for-5, R (.254 BA, .642 OPS)
Laz Rivera (2B) 3-for-5, 2B (22), 2 RBI (39), K (.252 BA, .615 OPS) **MVP**
Zach Remillard (3B) 1-for-5, R, 2B (2), 2 K (.227 BA, .635 OPS)
Alfredo Gonzalez (C) 1-for-5, R, K (.238 BA, .636 OPS)
Luis Valenzuela (SS) 1-for-5, R (.199 BA, .511 OPS)
This game started out as a pitching duel between Blake Battenfield and Brewer prospect Dylan File. That is until the third, when Luis Basabe pulled a single to right, scoring Alfredo Gonzalez with the first run of the game.
After the teams swapped runs in the fourth inning and went scoreless in the fifth, the Shuckers ended Battenfield’s evening with a triple and double to initiate the sixth frame. Control-challenged Alec Hansen entered the game tied 2-2 and promptly loaded the bases with a couple of walks. With the bases loaded and nobody out, things certainly didn’t look good for the home team. Hansen looked like he’d pull a Houdini act by fanning the next two batters, but his inability to find the plate cost him on a bases-loaded walk. An Alfredo Gonzalez passed ball proceeded to give Biloxi a 4-2 lead.
The game remained 4-2 until the bottom of the eighth, when Basabe scored on a wild pitch to slice the deficit in half. Then, in the bottom of the ninth, Zach Remillard (who opened the inning with a leadoff double) eventually scored a run thanks to a botched grounder hit by Luis Valenzuela. Thanks to those two gifts by the Shuckers (along with solid bullpen work by Hansen and Mauricio Cabrera in the seventh and eighth), the game went into extras.
After a scoreless 10th frame, Codi Heuer allowed a run without courtesy of a hit in the 11th.: The opening runner on second advanced to third on a ground out, and subsequently scored on a meek RBI ground out to Ti’Quan Forbes, giving Biloxi the 5-4 advantage.
Would this be the end for the Barons on this night? Not if Omar Vizquel’s squad had anything to say about it! Laz Rivera promptly scored designated runner Joel Booker with a double to begin the inning, tying the game 5-5. The Barons were unable to tack on the winning run that inning, however, so the game remained 5-5 after 11.
After a stellar 1-2-3 12th inning by Luis Martinez to keep the game deadlocked, Gavin Sheets came up with the bases loaded and one out, and came through with a clutch, game-winning sac fly to finally conclude this marathon with a 6-5 victory!
As is typical for a comeback win, this was certainly a team effort. The bullpen pitched a whopping seven innings allowing nary an earned run, but their work was so evenly split it was difficult to come up with a decisive winner. Thus the winner would have to come from the offensive side in the name of Rivera, who collected three hits and knocked in two runs —including the game-tying double in the 11th. The Barons improved to 63-71, while the Shuckers slipped to an impressive 81-56.
Zach Lewis (SP) L (6-8) 6 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 4 K (5.83 ERA, 1.52 WHIP)
Jake Elliott (RP) 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K (4.83 ERA, 1.33 WHIP)
Steele Walker (CF) 0-for-4, R (.269 BA, .768 OPS)
Mitch Roman (SS) 0-for-4, E (11) (.275 BA, .670 OPS)
Andrew Vaughn (1B) 0-for-3, BB, K (.240 BA, .733 OPS)
Craig Dedelow (RF) 1-for-3, 3B (10), RBI (63), BB, K (.246 BA, .755 OPS) **MVP**
Carlos Perez (DH) 1-for-4, K (.260 BA, .633 OPS)
Jameson Fisher (LF) 0-for-4, E (.238 BA, .711 OPS)
The Dash drew first blood in this game, as extra-base machine Craig Dedelow slugged an RBI triple, plating Steele Walker in the top of the first. Not only does Dedelow lead the Carolina League in triples this year with 10, he’s also clubbed 21 doubles and 18 homers. The Dash retained their tenuous 1-0 lead until the bottom of the third, when the Cleveland affiliate mounted a two-out run rally to give them a 2-1 lead off Dash starter Zach Lewis.
The bottom of the fourth started ominously for Lewis, as the first three hitters got on base via a single, double and hit-by-pitch. It didn’t finish well for Lewis, either, as the Hillcats tacked on three runs that inning which extended the Dash deficit to 5-1. Aside from an unearned run allowed by Jake Elliott in the eighth, there was very little offense in the last five frames. This was especially true of the Dash, as a Carlos Perez single was the only hit aside from Dedelow’s first-inning triple in this game. It’s never a good thing to have as many errors as hits.
Nobody really stood out in this game for the Dash, so Dedelow wins the MVP of this game for the Dash with his RBI triple and walk. The Dash fell to 70-61 with the defeat, while the Hillcats improved their record to 62-71.
Jason Bilous (SP) L (6-10) 2.2 IP, 1 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 6 BB, 4 K (3.70 ERA, 1.39 WHIP)
Declan Cronin (RP) 3.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K (3.70 ERA, 1.03 WHIP)
J.B. Olson (RP) 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K (5.83 ERA, 1.58 WHIP)
Ian Dawkins (CF) 2-for-5, R, K (.299 BA, .756 OPS)
Lenyn Sosa (SS) 2-for-4, 2 R, HR (6), RBI (49), 2 K (.252 BA, .662 OPS) **MVP**
Alex Destino (RF) 1-for-4, RBI (61), 2 K (.294 BA, .840 OPS)
Tyler Osik (DH) 1-for-3, 2B (10), RBI (18), BB, K (.273 BA, .899 OPS)
Amado Nuñez (2B) 0-for-3, BB, K (.205 BA, .579 OPS)
Gunnar Troutwine (C) 1-for-3, BB, K (.244 BA, .692 OPS)
With one out and nobody on in the first, Lenyn Sosa hammered his sixth homer of the season, giving the Intimidators an early 1-0 lead. Sosa’s enjoyed an above-average ending to his 2019 season, as his slash line was .307/.357/.421 prior to this game since the calendar flipped to August. Jason Bilous’ control evaporated in the bottom of the third, as four walks and a single among the first six batters is always a foreboding sign. Alas, a fifth walk in the inning plated the third Shorebirds run of the frame and presented the opportunity for Bilous to take an early shower. Somehow, throwing just 24-of-59 pitches for strikes doesn’t often get the job done. Fortunately, 36th-round pick Declan Cronin extinguished the fire and kept the score at a manageable 3-1.
Aside from a run in the fourth, Cronin did a yeoman’s job in keeping the Intimidators in the game. Unfortunately, his offense was nonexistent, as it couldn’t even tally a run in the seventh when the Shorebirds graciously handed them three free passes.
After a scoreless eighth inning thrown by J.B. Olson, the Intimidators went to work in the bottom half. Three singles and a double to begin the inning reduced the deficit to 4-3, with runners on scoring position and nobody out. However, strikeouts to Corey Zangari, Cameron Simmons and Amado Nuñez ignominiously ended the inning without any further damage.
Olson returned for the eighth, and held Delmarva scoreless with another solid inning of work. Each of the three hitters fanned in the ninth, however, as the Intimidators lost a tough one at 4-3, their hitters finishing the game with six strikeouts. Bilous’ wildness in the third inning, along with the inability to get the clutch hits in the seventh and eighth frames, provided the demise of Kannapolis in this contest. Cronin and Olson were excellent out of the bullpen this evening, but Sosa was the MVP of this one with his two hits (including his sixth homer of the year). The Shorebirds soared to an incredible 89-47 record, while the Intimidators fell to 10 games under at 63-73.
Dan Metzdorf (SP) 2 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K (3.55 ERA, 1.29 WHIP)
Kaleb Roper (RP) 3 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K (2.81 ERA, 1.00 WHIP)
Nate Pawelczyk (RP) 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K (3.96 ERA, 1.52 WHIP)
Karan Patel (RP) 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K (4.02 ERA, 1.31 WHIP)
Sammy Peralta (RP) 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (2.63 ERA, 1.10 WHIP)
Caberea Weaver (CF) 0-for-4, R, K (.248 BA, .680 OPS)
Luis Curbelo (DH) 4-for-5, 4 R (.259 BA, .741 OPS) **MVP**
Luis Mieses (RF) 0-for-5, 2 R, K (.238 BA, .617 OPS)
Lency Delgado (3B) 2-for-4, R, 3 RBI (31), K, E (15) (.282 BA, .731 OPS)
Sam Abbott (1B) 1-for-4, 2 RBI (27), BB, K, E (6) (.231 BA, .806 OPS)
Ivan Gonzalez (C) 1-for-3, 2 RBI (3), K, E (3) (.233 BA, .559 OPS)
Anderson Comas (LF) 2-for-4, RBI (33), 2 K (.240 BA, .651 OPS)
The normally reliable Dan Metzdorf got off to a rocky start in this one, as he relinquished three runs in the opening frame thanks to a single, three doubles and a walk. The Voyagers, however, got back two of those runs courtesy of a two-run single by Lency Delgado. Metdorf was unable to stifle the Mustangs in the second, however, as a two-out single increased the Billings lead to 4-2. Billings added an insurance in the fourth off Kaleb Roper, increasing their lead to three runs. The Voyagers narrowed the deficit to 5-4, however, as Ivan Gonzalez clubbed a two-run single in the bottom of that frame.
Kaleb Roper relinquished a run in the fourth, but it wasn’t entirely his fault as Gonzalez committed a throwing error trying to gun down a runner at third on a stolen base attempt. Aside from that minor blemish, Roper did a terrific job keeping the Voyagers within fighting distance. In the meantime, Great Falls evened the score at 6-6 during the bottom half of the fifth thanks to an RBI ground out and an RBI single by Anderson Comas.
Billings, seemingly offended by Great Falls tying the game up, immediately scored a run in the sixth off Nate Pawelczyk to regain the advantage. Thanks to some solid bullpen work by both teams, the game remained that way until two outs in the ninth inning, when Lency Delgado blooped a clutch RBI single to plate Caberea Weaver with the game-tying run. Not to be outdone, Sam Abbott pulled a single to right, which scored Luis Curbelo with the game-winner!
What an exciting win for a team that’s had more ups than downs this season. As mentioned in the Birmingham game, it’s usually a team effort when a team achieves a come-from-behind victory like this one. The bullpen (all selected in this year’s MLB draft) certainly deserves kudos for keeping the team in the game, while Delgado and Abbott contributed clutch hits in the final frame. The true MVP of this game is Curbelo, however, with four hits and an equal number of runs scored, including the game-winner. He’s certainly had a difficult 2019, but here’s hoping that a great finish this year could lead to a resurgent 2020 for the young man. Honorable mention goes to Delgado with two hits and 3 RBI., including the game-tying run in the ninth.