Meloan Getting the Hang of Starting

Newly-minted starter Jonathan Meloan boosted the 51s to a 6-2 win over Colorado Springs. Jacksonville, and Clayton Kershaw, lost 2-0 to Tennessee and High Desert outlasted Inland Empire 11-10. Great Lakes was rained out at West Michigan.

Meloan Finding His Groove
Jon Meloan signed with the Dodgers out of the University of Arizona as a relief pitcher, after recording 10 win seasons his final two years with the college and going 24-4. The Dodgers selected him #4 in 2005 and he streaked through they system, becoming MLB's Double-A Reliever of the Year in 2007 with Jacksonville and recording 20 saves for Jacksonville and Las Vegas and was rated the Dodgers' eighth-best prospect by Baseball America.

But over the off-season the Dodgers determined that he would be more valuable as a starter and his conversion started during spring training and he opened the season with the 51s as a member of their rotation.

His first appearance on April 5 against Salt Lake City was routine: four innings, seven hits, two earned runs. But he was just getting warmed up.

Last night he found his groove. Meloan limited the Sky Sox to one run on three hits and three walks in six innings while striking out six as the 51s recorded a 6-2 win. He lowered his ERA to 2.70 and added a double.

Meloan (1-0) held the Sky Sox to one run on three hits in six innings and lowered his ERA to 2.70.

"I'm very, very happy with the results from Jon tonight, at a time when we really needed six innings from our starter to give our bullpen a break," 51s manager Lorenzo Bundy told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "He did a great job. He stayed aggressive in the strike zone, threw his breaking ball for strikes and even helped his cause with a leadoff double."

Meloan made only nine starts in 86 minor league games entering this season, including six in his rookie season at Ogden in 2005. Just getting a handle on starting, he pitched from the stretch most of the time last night.

"Starting fits my personality. I like it, the preparation in between and stuff," the freckle-faced, red-haired right-hander said. "I think I've proven myself in the bullpen, and I hope to prove myself as a starter and be more valuable to the team.

"Right now, I'm getting my feet wet starting, so I'm going to stay in the stretch for a while. Early on, I really struggled with my rhythm, tempo and delivery. I was kind of erratic. The last couple of innings, I finally found it and picked it up a little bit. That was big for me."

"Picked it up a little bit" was understated. He retired the last eight batters he faced, five via strikeout.

After his spectacular career at the University of Arizona, he sliced through the Dodger minor league like a Samari sword. Working mostly in relief he recorded earned run averages of 3.69 (Ogden) in 2005; 1.54 (Columbus), 2.50 (Vero Beach) and 1.69 (Jacksonville) in 2006; 2.18 (Jacksonville), 1.69 (Las Vegas) and 11.05 (Los Angeles) in 2007.

He made his big league debut with the Dodgers on Sept. 1, tossing two scoreless innings at San Diego, then struggled, allowing nine runs on eight hits in 7.1 innings, walking eight and striking out seven.

"Since you're a little boy, you think of one day playing in the big leagues, so when it actually became a reality, I was kind of star struck at first," he said. "I didn't really perform in the big leagues how I wanted to, but now that I got a taste of it, hopefully I'll get a chance to go back and be there to stay."

The list of outstanding Texas starting pitchers is long and distinguished: Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, Burt Hooton, Josh Beckett and perhaps in the not-to-distant future we can add Jonathan Meloan.

He allowed his only run against the SkySox in the first inning and it came without a hit: walk, stolen base, ground ball, sacrifice fly. From that point he surrendered a single in the second, third and fourth innings.

His teammaates erased the first inning deficit when outfielder Jason Repko was hit by a pitch, Terry Tiffee singled him to second and first baseman John Lindsey walked to load the bases. A ground ball by John-Ford Griffin tied the score and Angel Chavez, who passed through waivers and accepted the assignment to Las Vegas, lined a single to make it 2-1.

Repko doubled to lead off the third and scored on Xavier Paul's double. Paul and Tiffee opened the fifth with singles and Lindsey and Griffin walked and Tiffee scored on a wild pitch to run the lead to 5-1.

Meloan got into the act himself in the sixth, smacking a double to right and scoring easily as Repko tripled.

Mike Koplove allowed a single in his two innings of work and Brian Falkenborg gave up a double and two wild pitches in the ninth to give the Bees their final run.

Notes-- Infielder Rex Rundgren was optioned to Ogden, and the 51s activated infielder Angel Chavez. Third baseman Terry Tiffee went 3-for-3 to raise his Pacific Coast League-leading batting average to .613.
  Score by Innings
Colorado Springs	100 000 001-2
Las Vegas	        201 012 00x-6

  Las Vegas	ab r  h  bi  ave
Repko rf	4  3  2  1  .226
Paul cf        	4  0  1  2  .154
Tiffee 3b-1b	3  2  3  0  .613
Lindsey 1b	2  0  0  0  .367
 Koplove p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Falkenborg p	0  0  0  0  .000
Griffin lf	2  0  0  1  .240
Chaves ss	4  0  1  1  .250
Howard 2b	1  0  0  0  .409
Ardoin c	4  0  1  0  .063
Maloan p 	3  1  1  0  .333
 Maza 3b        1  0  0  0  .110
  Totals	29 6 9 5
  Colo. Springs	29 2 5 1

  2B- Repko (2), Paul (2),
Meloan (1). 3B- Repko (2).
RBI- Griffin (2), Chavez (1),
Paul 2 (3), Repko (3). SF-
Paul. LOB- Las Vegas 8, Colorado
Springs 5. CS- Tiffee (1), Howard
(2). CS- Tiffee (1), Howard (2).
DP- Koplove and Chavez; Tiffee. 

  Las Vegas	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Meloan (1-))	6.0  3  1-1  3  6  2.70
Koplove 	2.0  1  0-0  1  2  1.59
Falkenborg	1.0  1  1-1  0  1 13.50  
  WP- Falkenborg 2. HBP- Repko, Lindsey,
Tiffee. T- 2:52. Att- 5,680.
Jeff Samardzija, the 23-year-old Cubs right-hander, allowed a one-out single in the second and single hits in the fifth, sixth and seventh to stop Jacksonville and Clayton Kershaw 2-0.

But the former Notre Dame All-American wide receiver was impressed by what he saw from Kershaw, who allowed two runs -- both in the first inning -- on seven hits and two walks in five innings. He struck out a season-high eight, including Samardzija twice, and now has a dozen punchouts in just eight innings.

The right-hander, who is under a major-league contract for the Chicago Cubs, threw 80 pitches during his second outing of the season.

"He got me a couple times," Samardzija laughed. "It was good to get a chance to see him throw from the batter's box. He's got some pop on his fastball."

Kershaw, the Dodgers top prospect and rated the fourth-best in the minor leagues by, gave up an opening walk a double and a single to effectively end the game at that point since the Suns collected only five hits during he game.

First baseman Russell Mitchell had a pair of hits and a stolen base for the Suns (4-3).

The Suns and Smokies meet today in the third game of the series. Suns LHP Marlon Arias (1-0, 0.00) will face Smokies RHP Mitch Atkins (0-0, 2.25).
  Score by Innings
Jacksonville	000 000 000-0
Tennessee	200 000 00x-2

  Jacksonville	ab r  h  bi  ave
Tomlin cf	4  0  1  0  .333
De Jesus ss	3  0  1  0  .375
Jacobs lf	4  0  0  0  .259
May c        	4  0  0  0  .263
Mitchell 1b	4  0  2  0  .318
Hoffmann rf	4  0  0  0  .095
Justis 3b	4  0  1  0  .143
JGonzalez 2b	3  0  0  0  .158
Kershaw p	1  0  0  0  .000
Godwin ph	1  0  0  0  .231
 Wilson p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Maleke ph	0  0  0  0  .143
 Hammes p	0  0  0  0  .000
  Totals	32 0 5 0
  Tennessee	35 2 9 2

  LOB- Jacksonville 7, Tennessee
7. SB- Mitchell (1). DP- De Jesus
and JGonzalez; Mitchell.

  Jacksonville	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Kershaw (0-2)	5.0  7  2-2  2  8  3.38
Wilson 	        2.0  1  0-0  0  1  0.00
Hammes	        1.0  1  0-0  0  1  0.00
  T- 1.53. Att- 2,219.
Sixers Lose Five-Run Lead and Game
Inland Empire struggled to score during their first homestand but banged out a five-run lead in the fourth inning at Adelanto before High Desert sent 11 men to the plate in the bottom of the inning, scored six times and then held on to win 11-10.

The 66ers fought back from a 3-0 first inning deficit to knot the game in the second. They scored the next six runs before the eruption in the seventh. They again tied things at 10-each in the eighth on a Josh Bell home run but a bunt single and a one-out single up the middle scored the winning run.

James Adkins drew the start for the 66ers and was tapped four three runs in the first inning, two coming on a home run. Inland Empire tied the game in the second on a two-run double by shortstop Jaime Pedroza and a ground ball by outfielder Ryan Rogowski.

RBI singles by outfielder Tommy Giles and Tray Robinson gave the Sixers a 5-3 lead and a single run in the fifth and three more in the seventh with the help of a two-run single by Rogowski made it 9-4.

But Alberto Bustardo, who took over from Adkins in the fifth, allowed the first five runs in the seventh and Jordan Pratt was responsible for the sixth run that gave High Desert the lead.

The first Sixer home run of the season, a shot by Josh Bell, tied the game in the eighth. Inland Empire was one of only five minor league teams not to have a home run going into the game.

Bell made the first homer of the season memorable with a shot over the second set of billboards in right field which are more than 25 feet behind the outfield wall.

With the game tied going into the bottom of the ninth, as the first man reached on a bunt single that was misplayed by both the pitcher Brent Leach and catcher Carlos Santana. A sac bunt moved the runner to second before an intentional walk set up a potential double play.

But a shot up the middle provided the the game winning hit. Leach (0-1) took the loss.

Santana reached base for the 66ers four times going two-for-three with two doubles and a pair of walks plus three runs scored. Jaime Pedroza had two hits, a run scored and three runs batted in. Bell got aboard three times with a triple, homer, walk and scored three times.

Game two will be at High Desert tonight. The 66ers will return home Monday to meet on the Visalia Oaks for the second time this year.
  Score by Innings
Inland Empire	030 210 310-10
High Desert	300 100 601-11

  Inland Empire	ab r  h  bi  ave
Robinson cf	6  0  1  1  .185
Lara ss        	6  0  1  0  .263
Bell 3b        	4  3  2  1  .343
Berezay lf	2  1  0  0  .222
Santana c	3  3  2  0  .333
Perez 1b	3  1  1  1  .273
Pedroza 2b	5  1  2  3  .172
Giles rf	3  1  1  2  .240
Rogowski dh	3  0  1  1  .276
  Totals	35 10 11 9
  High Desert	36 11 14 11

  Error Perez (1). Santana (2).
2B- Santana 2 (4), Pedroza (1).
3B- Bell (1). HR- Bell. RBI-
Pedroza 3 (5), Giles 2 (4),
Robinson (2), Perez, (2), 
Rogowski (1), Bell (2). S-
Rogowski. LOB- Inland Empire
10, High Desert 7. SB- Lars (1).
CS- Lara (1). DP- Lara and Perez.

  Inland Empire in  h  r-er bb so  era
Adkins	        4.0  3  4-3  2  3  3.38
Bastardo	2.1  6  5-5  0  1  8.53
Pratt 	        1.1  2  1-1  1  0  1.69
Leach (0-1)	0.2  3  1-1  1  0  1.80
  HBP- Giles. T- 3:40. Att- 1,152.
Loons-Whitecaps Washed Away
The finalé of the four-game series between the Great Lakes Loons and West Michigan Whitecaps has been postponed due to inclement weather. It was the sixth contest rained out in the Midwest League. No makeup date has been announced.  

The Loons (4-3) will open a three-game series at Burlington tonight. Right-hander Kyle Smit (0-0) makes his second start of the season for the Loons.

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