Duffy strong again as Blue Rocks prevail

Wilmington starting pitcher Danny Duffy registered his second straight dominant outing on Tuesday as the Blue Rocks clipped the Kinston Indians, 6-2. Elsewhere, the struggling Burlington Bees were swept away in a doubleheader, narrowly avoiding a no-hitter, while the Omaha Royals clobbered Round Rock. RC recaps all of Wednesday's minor league action inside.


Game 1: Kane County 7, Burlington 4
Game 2: Kane County 6, Burlington 1

In game one of Wednesday's doubleheader, Burlington scored one run in the first inning and three more in the top of the fourth to take a 4-0 lead in the seven-inning game. Unfortunately, starting pitcher Brent Fisher gave all four runs back in the bottom of the fourth, surrendering three hits and a walk while committing a throwing error and a wild pitch. Derrick Saito entered in relief with one out, and the tying run (charged to Fisher) scored on a ground out. Saito allowed the go-ahead run to score in the fifth, and two more in the sixth while picking up his first loss of the season. Fisher got the no decision after pitching 3.1 innings and allowing four runs (two earned) on five hits and two walks while striking out three. At the plate, Jose Bonilla knocked in his first two runs of the season with a two-run double in the fourth inning. He finished the day 1-for-3. From the leadoff spot in the order, Nick Van Stratten went 1-for-2 with an RBI double and two walks. First baseman Eric Hosmer was 0-for-2 with a walk and a sac fly.

Only a seventh inning single by Van Stratten prevented the Bees from being no-hit in the second game of the twin bill. The Bees actually took a 1-0 lead in the third when Antonio Jimenez reached on a throwing error, stole second and advanced to third on another throwing error, and scored on a wild pitch. Meanwhile, starting pitcher Bryan Casey matched zeros with Kane County's Ben Hornbeck, and the Bees were in the strange position of leading a game in which they were being no-hit. Alas, Casey ran into trouble in the fifth, surrendering a single and a walk. With two outs, he was replaced by James Thompson, who promptly loaded the bases with a walk and surrendered a grand slam. The Cougars plated two more runs in the inning after another walk, an error by Van Stratten, and a balk by Thompson. Though he pitched well, Casey picked up the loss, and his final line was 4.2 innings pitched with two runs allowed on four hits, two walks, and five strikeouts. The Bees (1-5) now travel to Beloit, where they open a four-game series with the Snappers on Thursday evening. Sam Runion will likely get the start. Runion last pitched on Friday, when he gave up six runs in four innings against Clinton while picking up his first loss of the season.


Wilmington 6, Kinston 2

Danny Duffy threw five shutout innings and shortstop Jeff Bianchi drove in three runs as the Blue Rocks knocked off the Kinston Indians, 6-2. In his second start of the season, Duffy was characteristically excellent, picking up his first win while striking out six batters and allowing just three hits and one walk. In 9.2 innings thus far, Duffy has surrendered just one run and five hits while striking out 12 batters. He handed a 2-0 lead to the bullpen in the sixth, and a succession of Kelvin Villa, Craig Rodriguez, and Aaron Hartsock pitched the final four frames, with Hartsock recording his second save of the season. The only trouble came in the eighth, when consecutive fielding errors by Mike Moustakas and Johnny Giavotella led to two unearned runs. At the plate, Bianchi went 2-for-5 with an RBI double and his first home run of the season, a two-run shot in the seventh inning that stretched the Rocks' lead to four. Moustakas returned to the lineup after a day off, and he went 2-for-5 with an RBI. Clint Robinson was 2-for-4, raising his average to .364, and Derrick Robinson was 1-for-3 with a run scored and his fifth stolen base of the season. The Blue Rocks (4-3) play the finale of their four-game set with the Indians on Thursday, looking to win consecutive games for the first time this season.


The Northwest Arkansas Naturals (3-3) had Wednesday off, and they open their home schedule on Thursday with a three-game series against San Antonio. Anthony Lerew (0-0, 6.00 ERA) is scheduled to start the home opener in Springdale, which is almost completely sold-out.


Omaha 14, Round Rock 7

It seems that Tuesday's weak offensive performance by the O-Royals was merely a hiccup on an otherwise season-long scoring bonanza. Omaha got back on track Wednesday night, pounding out 19 hits and 14 runs en route to dominating 14-7 win over Round Rock. Every player in the Royals' lineup had at least one hit, with J.R. House's 4-for-4, four RBI effort leading the way. Starting pitcher Luke Hochevar got all the runs he would need in the first inning, when a pair of two-run home runs by House and Travis Metcalf staked the O-Royals to a 4-0 lead. Hochevar, for his part, was excellent for the second straight outing, scattering two runs on five hits and two walks over six innings. On the season, the Royals' 2006 first rounder is now 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA in 11 innings pitched. At the plate, there were even more encouraging signs as Ryan Shealy and Kila Kaaihue – who have both been struggling thus far – turned in excellent games. Kaaihue was 2-for-3 with a double and three walks, while Shealy went 4-for-6 with a double and two RBIs. Chris Lubanski finished 2-for-6 with a triple after stretching his hitting streak to seven games with an RBI single in the third inning. The O-Royals and Express conclude their four-game series on Thursday, with Heath Phillips on the mound for Omaha. Phillips last pitched on Saturday, when the big southpaw tossed six innings of one-hit ball against Albuquerque.

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