L - Meek (0-1)
18-14, 1.5 GB
An impressive display of hustle from Las Vegas pinch-runner Brian Bixler helped the 51s walk it off against Round Rock in Tuesday's series opener.
Bixler scored all the way from second base on a strikeout, as he broke when the ball squirted away from Express catcher Robinson Chirinos. While Chirinos fired to first to retire the hitter, Bixler continued breaking towards home and ultimately scored the game-winning run.
Despite the loss, Round Rock got a strong effort from righty Jake Brigham in his first start of the season––and his second overall Triple-A appearance.
Although Brigham threw just 27 of his 60 pitches for strikes, he gave up only one run on one hit––a solo homer––over 4.1 innings. He walked four, plunked one, and struck out two.
Southpaw reliever Neal Cotts (1.00 ERA/.155 BAA) followed by punching out three in 2.2 perfect innings.
The 33-year-old Cotts has been masterful in the early going this season, yielding just two earned runs on nine hits in 18 innings. He has walked five and struck out 33.
Fellow lefties are also 0-for-24 against Cotts with three walks and 18 strikeouts. That's good for a 67 percent strikeout rate.
At the plate, first baseman Chris McGuiness (.263/.397/.495) went 3-for-4 with his eighth double. The 24-year-old slugger has reached base multiple times via hit or walk in 10 consecutive games.
During that 10-game stretch, McGuiness is 13-for-32 (.406) with three doubles, two homers, 11 walks, and nine strikeouts.
Right fielder Jim Adduci (1/3, 2B) added his eighth double. Robinson Chirinos (1/4) and Jose Felix (1/3) both singled and drove home a run.
Express reliever Evan Meek (3.75 ERA/.277 BAA) suffered the loss after permitting two runs––one earned––in 1.2 innings.
L - Reyes (0-1)
HR - Nicholas (6)
17-15, 2.0 GB
With the recent promotion of lefty Ryan Feierabend to Triple-A and demotion of Cody Buckel to extended spring training, Frisco is currently short two starters.
Luckily for the ‘Riders, rehabbing southpaw Martin Perez is currently filling one of those voids. The other has been filled by reliever Tyler Tufts, who made another three-inning start on Tuesday.
Tufts threw only 29 of his 53 pitches for strikes, as he yielded two runs in three innings. The University of Indiana product pitched around five hits and four walks, striking out two.
Frisco's bats were constantly playing catch-up in the game, and they couldn't do enough in the end.
First baseman Brett Nicholas (.279/.352/.514), happy to be out of the pitcher-friendly Carolina League, continued to show some pop by going 2-for-4 with a double and a solo home run.
Although Nicholas had 33 doubles in 122 games for Myrtle Beach last season, he hit only eight home runs. His round-tripper on Tuesday was his sixth for Frisco in 30 contests.
Right fielder Jared Hoying (1/4, 2B) and DH Chih-Hsien Chiang (1/2, 2B, 2 BB) both doubled once. Odubel Herrera (2/5) and Teodoro Martinez (2/4) singled twice. Martinez added a pair of steals, giving him four on the season.
Out of the bullpen, right-handers Ryan Rodebaugh (1 IP) and Randy Henry (2 IP) each allowed one run.
Midland jumped into the lead for good when they tagged southpaw Jimmy Reyes for four runs on five hits––including two homers––in just 1.2 innings. The outing ballooned Reyes' ERA to 3.68.
W - Rojas (3-0)
SV - Lamb (1)
HR - Deglan (6)
18-13, 2.0 GU
Pelicans starting pitcher Alec Asher kept the Hillcats off the scoreboard, and catcher Kellin Deglan provided the game's big blast to power Myrtle Beach to victory.
Asher (2.94 ERA/.184 BAA) fanned a career-best 11 batters over six innings of two-hit, shutout ball. He walked one. The 21-year-old righty is off to a solid start this season, but he has been particularly strong since a rocky first two appearances––30.0 ip, 14 h, 5 er, 7 bb, 29 k.
During spring training, I wrote a scouting feature (with game video) on Asher, one of the Pelicans' more intriguing pitching prospects.
Deglan (.227/.346/.545) launched a three-run homer to put Myrtle Beach on top in the seventh inning. The Canadian's round-tripper was his sixth this season and the third in his last three games.
Drew Robinson (1/3, 2B) and Rougned Odor (1/4, 2B) both doubled. Leadoff man Luis Sardinas raised his batting average to .272 with a pair of singles in four at-bats.
After getting off to his trademark slow start, the 21-year-old Robinson has picked up the pace over his last 10 games––he's 12-for-35 (.343) with four doubles, a triple, and a home run.
Sinkerballing righty Randol Rojas, who earned the win, gave up an unearned run on three hits in the seventh inning. Will Lamb went six up, six down––fanning a pair––to finish the game and get the save.
After going hitless in three at-bats on Tuesday, Pelicans centerfielder Jake Skole is now hitting just .157/.252/.202 over his first 28 contests. Skole batted .185 in 68 Carolina League games last season.
L - Leclerc (0-2)
HR - Alfaro (7, 8), Brinson (7), Rua (6), Akins (3)
18-13, 0.5 GB
Delgan isn't the only Rangers catching prospect on a home run binge. Hickory slugger Jorge Alfaro, who actually played first base on Tuesday, launched a pair of solo home runs in three official at-bats. He also walked.
Alfaro (.266/.319/.560) now has eight home runs in his first 30 games. His previous career best was six with short-season Spokane in 2011. The 19-year-old prospect also has four homers in a four-game span.
Not to be outdone, leadoff man Lewis Brinson (.246/.307/.460) went 2-for-5 with his sixth double and his seventh long ball. Jordan Akins (.264/.289/.400) homered, singled, and walked in five trips. Ryan Rua (.208/.331/.475) homered once and walked twice in his five appearances.
After belting five long balls on Tuesday, the Crawdads now have 53 home runs as a team in 31 games. For comparison, Asheville has the second most in the South Atlantic League––with 27. Augusta currently ranks last with six total round-trippers.
Despite all the firepower, Hickory dropped Tuesday's game after yielding nine runs.
Starter Kelvin Vasquez gave up five runs on seven hits in four innings, walking two and striking out two. He served up two homers himself.
Although the club got one scoreless inning apiece from Coby Cowgill and Joe Burns, Jose Leclerc was tagged for three runs (one earned) in 1.2 innings. Josh McElwee also gave up a run in 1.1 frames.
DH Joe Maloney raised his batting average to .197 by going 3-for-4 with his fourth double. Nick Vickerson (1/5, 2B) also doubled.
Hickory's offense went 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position, stranding nine runners aboard. All five home runs were solo shots.
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