Around the Minors: 4-10 to 4-12

The Omaha Royals were perfect over the weekend, riding a hot offense to an opening series win over the Albuquerque Isotopes. Meanwhile, the Bees' slow start continued, as the Royals' low-A club is still searching for its first win. RC recaps all of the weekend's minor league action inside.

Low-A – Burlington Bees

Friday: Clinton 6, Burlington 3
Saturday: Clinton 3, Burlington 2
Sunday: Off-day

Despite a very encouraging start by Luis Cota on Saturday, the Burlington Bees couldn't avoid a three-game sweep by the Clinton LumberKings. Cota on Saturday pitched five innings, surrendering just one run on three hits and two walks while striking out eight. Unfortunately for Cota and the Bees, Clinton starter Aaron Pribanic was even better, throwing six shutout innings while allowing just one hit, as Cota picked up his first hard luck loss of the season. Barry Bowden and James Thompson both chipped in perfect innings in the Bees' loss. In Friday's game, Sam Runion got roughed up in his first start of the season. In four innings pitched, Runion allowed six runs (all earned) on eight hits and three walks. Blaine Hardy, last year's 22nd rounder, was a bright spot this weekend. He entered Friday's game in the fifth inning and threw five perfect innings while striking out seven batters. Offensively, the Bees managed a total of just eight hits in the two games. Eric Hosmer went 3-for-7 with a pair of doubles, and he's hitting .364 through the season's first three games. Outfielder Nick Francis slugged the Bees' first and only homer thus far in a 2-for-4 effort on Friday. On Monday, the Bees open a series against Kane County, with Zach Peterson scheduled to start.

High-A – Wilmington Blue Rocks

Friday: Myrtle Beach 3, Wilmington 1
Saturday: Wilmington 11, Myrtle Beach 9
Sunday: Myrtle Beach 6, Wilmington 3

The Wilmington Blue Rocks dropped two of three over the weekend, settling for split with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans in a four-game series that began Thursday. Danny Duffy started on Friday and pitched brilliantly, striking out six batters in 4.2 innings while allowing just one run on two hits and a walk, but two runs allowed by Jacob Rodriguez in the seventh inning made the difference. On Saturday, the Blue Rocks survived a rough start by Ray Liotta (2.1 IP, 5 ER) while winning a slugfest. Eduardo Paulino threw three strong innings to pick up the win, while Aaron Hartsock picked up the save with a scoreless ninth. On Sunday, Mario Santiago made an early exit after surrendering five runs on 10 hits in three innings, but Jason Godin followed with four strong innings that kept the game close. Unfortunately, the Rocks' offense never got going, and they couldn't overcome a three-run deficit. Indeed, the Blue Rocks struggled at the plate all weekend. Jeff Bianchi was one of the few bright spots, going 3-for-10 on the weekend, including a 2-for-4 performance on Friday. He also went 1-for-3 with three runs scored in Saturday's victory. Also on Saturday, David Lough went 2-for-3 with four RBIs and his first home run of the season. The Blue Rocks now head to Kinston for a four-game series, with Everett Teaford taking the hill on Monday.

Double-A – Northwest Arkansas Naturals

Friday: NW Arkansas 8, San Antonio 6
Saturday: San Antonio 6, NW Arkansas 5
Sunday: NW Arkansas 6, Corpus Christi 5

The Naturals had a winning weekend, taking two of their three games. On Friday, the club rebounded from its opening day loss behind a healthy dose of offense and some solid middle relief. Anthony Lerew got the start, yielding two runs in three innings pitched, and Chris Nicoll followed with three solid innings while picking up the win. Greg Holland got a hold with two stellar innings, and although Chris Hayes gave up three runs in the ninth, the Nats held on for their first win of the season. Unfortunately, the Nats couldn't build upon Friday's game, and they dropped the three-game series to the Missions. Blake Johnson yielded three runs in four innings, and Victor Marte picked up the loss after surrendering the game's deciding run in the eighth inning. The club bounced back on Sunday, however, overcoming a lackluster start by Blake Wood (6 IP, 5 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 5 K) to win in extra innings. The bullpen was excellent as Gilbert De La Vara and Greg Holland chipped in five scoreless innings in relief, with Holland picking up his first victory of the season. Catcher Jeff Howell tied the game in the ninth by capping a 4-for-4 night with a solo homer, and another solo homer by Mario Lisson in the 10th proved to be the difference. At the plate, Lisson was 4-for-10 on the weekend, and Joe Dickerson was 3-for-8 with a pair of walks, a triple, and two RBIs. Brian McFall was the hottest bat, going 4-for-11 with two home runs, two doubles, and six RBIs. Through four games, McFall is hitting .375 with five extra base hits in 16 at bats, and he leads the club with seven RBIs. The Naturals continue their series with Corpus Christi on Monday, with Matt Kniginyzky taking the hill for his first start of the year.

Triple-A – Omaha Royals

Friday: Omaha 9, Albuquerque 5
Saturday: Omaha 9, Albuquerque 0
Sunday: Omaha 10, Albuquerque 4

The O-Royals used the weekend to take advantage of the high altitude in Albuquerque, scoring 28 runs while taking the final three games of the four-game series. On Friday, Luke Hochevar started and pitched well, yielding two runs (one earned) on seven hits in five innings while picking up the win. On Saturday, the O-Royals blanked the Isotopes on just two hits behind an outstanding starting effort by Heath Phillips, along with three excellent innings in relief by Carlos Rosa and Dusty Hughes. On Sunday, it was Brandon Duckworth's turn to stymie Albuquerque hitters, which he did over four innings while allowing just one run on three hits. At the plate, the O-Royals banged out five home runs over the weekend, including one each by the red-hot outfielders Chris Lubanski and Mitch Maier. Lubanski went 6-for-13 over the weekend, and he's hitting .471 through the first four games with a pair of home runs. Not to be outdone, Maier went 5-for-13 on the weekend, hiking his average to .444 atop the O-Royals' lineup. Kila Kaaihue also slammed his first dinger on Friday, a three-run shot off of the hated Jeff Weaver in a four RBI effort. The O-Royals now take their hot bats to Round Rock, where they begin a four-game set with the Express on Monday evening.

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