It’s always nice to get into first. Doing so in dramatic fashion simply adds to the fun. The Renegades’ big win was only one part of an extremely exciting day in the Rays system on Saturday.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 5, Birmingham Barons (CHW) 1
Matt Buschmann pitched well and Hak-Ju Lee had a huge hit as the Biscuits came away with a nice win. Buschmann went 6 innings allowing just 1 run on 3 hits, striking out 6 while walking 3 and posting a 5-3 groundout to flyout ratio. The game was tied at 1 after 6 innings, with the only Biscuits run coming on a Greg Sexton RBI double, but the Biscuits’ offense came alive in the 7th. The Biscuits strung together three consecutive singles, with Brett Nommensen‘s single giving Montgomery a 2-1 lead. A few batters later, Lee came to the plate with the bases loaded and 2 outs and came up huge in the clutch, drilling a bases-clearing triple to extend the lead to 5-1 and that was the final margin. The Biscuits managed just 7 hits and only Sexton (2 for 4) had a multi-hit game, but they came up huge in the clutch, especially in the 4-run 7th.
High-A Florida State League: Clearwater Threshers (PHI) 9, Charlotte Stone Crabs 2
C.J. Riefenhauser got off to an incredible start in 2012, but his season has gone the other way of late as he hasn’t managed an ERA below 4.50 in a start since June 22nd. Unfortunately, Saturday was no exception. Reifenhauser did throw 5 innings for the first time since June 29th, but he allowed 6 runs on 5 hits, striking out 5 while walking 3 and allowing 2 home runs. His groundout to flyout ratio was 4-4. You have to hope that Riefenhauser can get back on track soon. Steven Tinoco did go 3 for 4 for Charlotte, while Hector Guevara went 2 for 3 with a double, a walk, and a run scored, and David Wendt went 2 for 4 with an RBI. Derek Dietrich had the other RBI for the Stone Crabs.
Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 5, Clinton LumberKings (SEA) 4 (11 innings)
The Hot Rods had a 4-0 lead and a no-hitter going before everything fell apart in the 8th, but they rallied in extra-innings to win the game albeit in less graceful fashion. Starters Felipe Rivero and Roberto Gomez each tossed 3 innings in the game as the Rays are trying to limit their innings the rest of the year, and their line was the same: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K. Through 6 innings, Hot Rods pitchers had a no-hitter going while striking out 10. An Alejandro Segovia solo home run in the second inning gave the Hot Rods a 1-0 lead and was still the margin in the game. But after Charlie Cononie worked around a walk and a hit batsman to pitch a scoreless 7th with the no-hitter intact, Tyler Goeddel had an RBI single and Jake Hager had a 2-run single in the bottom of the inning to give Bowling Green a 4-1 lead. But in the 8th, Cononie allowed 2 singles and a walk before walking in a run and allowing a Michael Dowd 2-run single to tie the game. The game went into extra-innings and kept going until the 11th, where a hit-by-pitch, a walk, an intentional walk, and finally a Tyler Goeddel walk plated the winning run as the Hot Rods won on a walk-off walk. Austin Hubbard tossed two 1-hit innings, striking out 3 while walking just 1 for the win, and the offensive heroes were Segovia, who went 2 for 4 with his homer and 2 runs scored, Drew Vettleson, who went 2 for 5 with a double and a run scored, Hager, who had a 2-run single, and finally Goeddel, who went 1 for 4 with a walk and 2 RBI.
Short Season-A New York Penn League: Hudson Valley Renegades 4, Aberdeen Ironbirds (BAL) 3
The Renegades overcame an inconsistent start with great bullpen and an outstanding late rally that was reminiscent of some of the Rays’ great wins this year. And to top it off, the win brought them into a tie with the Brooklyn Cyclones for first in the New York-Penn League’s McNamara Division. Jeff Ames got the start for Hudson Valley and had a tough day, going 5 innings allowing 3 runs on 4 hits, striking out 2 while walking 4 and managing just a 3-5 groundout to flyout ratio. He left with the Renegades trailing 3-1, with the only run coming on a 3rd inning Tommy Coyle RBI triple. But in relief of Ames, Jose Alberto Molina tossed 2 shutout frames and Kris Carlson chipped in another to keep it a 2-run game heading to the 9th. The Renegades were in striking distance, and they were lucky enough to put something together. Joel Caminero led off with a single and a Jake DePew single two batters later gave Hudson Valley first and second with 1 out. That brought up Deshun Dixon, who had come on of late. And in this spot, Dixon came up big drilling a 2-run double to tie the game. Two batters later, Marty Gantt singled in Dixon for the go-ahead run and the Renegades had come all the way back. Marcus Jensen tossed a perfect 9th with 2 strikeouts for the save as the Renegades won 4-3 in exciting fashion. Tommy Coyle went 3 for 5 with his RBI triple and DePew went 2 for 4 with a double, but the difference was the clutch hits of Dixon and Gantt.
Rookie Appalachian League: Game 1: Bluefield Blue Jays 2, Princeton Rays 0 (7 innings)
7 innings, the minor league prerequisite for doubleheaders, is certainly shorter than 9, but it is never enjoyable to get 1-hit by the opposition. Blake Snell delivered another incredible start for the P-Rays, going 5 shutout innings allowing just 3 hits, striking out 6 while walking none and posting a 5-1 groundout to flyout ratio. But Tucker Jensen was a little better for Bluefield allowing just an Alvin Toles single and a John Alexander walk in 6 innings, striking out 5 while walking 1 and posting an 11-1 groundout to flyout ratio. But Jon Weaver allowed a pair of runs in the bottom of the 6th, and Brandon Dorsett tossed a perfect 9th for the save as the Blue Jays won 2-0. Toles was the only one with a game that he could possibly write home about, going 1 for 3.
Game 2: Princeton Rays 4, Bluefield Blue Jays 2 (7 innings)
This game went a lot better for the P-Rays. Bruedlin Suero continued the P-Rays’ great pitching of the day with his second straight strong outing following 5 disaster appearances to begin the season. He tossed 5 innings allowing just an unearned run on 2 hits, striking out 5 while walking 2 and posting a 5-3 groundout to flyout ratio. Nice to see Suero turning his season around. And the offense was able to deliver for him as well to help the P-Rays earn a split in the twin bill. Willie Argo had a great game, going 2 for 2 with a homer and 3 RBI, and Brandon Martin went 1 for 3 with a solo homer.
Rookie Gulf Coast League: GCL Rays 5, GCL Orioles 3
The Rays 6th rounder in 2012, Damion Carroll, made his first professional start following four relief appearances, and he showed some encouraging signs. He went 2.2 innings allowing 1 run on just 1 hit but striking out 1 while walking 4. The walks aren’t good, but his groundout to flyout ratio was great 6-0. Carroll has experienced control problems earlier in his career, and hopefully those can be smoothed out. Nolan Gannon, the Rays’ 4th round selection made the other half of the start for the GCL Rays, going 3.1 innings of shutout ball allowing just 2 hits and a walk, but he couldn’t strike out a batter and his groundout to flyout ratio was a ghastly 2-8, a far cry from his previous performance. Gannon was off on Saturday, but he was able to survive without his best command. In terms of the offense, Spencer Edwards went 2 for 4 with a double and 2 RBI, Cesar Perez went 2 for 4 with a double, an RBI, and 2 runs scored, and Adderly Rosa went 2 for 3 with a walk and 2 runs scored.