MiLB Recap Blog: Justice Doubles, Stays Hot

Each morning, check in for the Minor League Recap Blog. Get all of the results from the games, the latest standings and the daily blog recapping the previous day's action.

April 25th Games

14-8, 1st in West division

AA Erie SeaWolves – ALTOONA 3, ERIE 9
12-10, 2nd in West division

A+ Lakeland Flying Tigers – FORT MYERS 2, LAKELAND 3
10-13, 5th in West division

A West Mich. Whitecaps – WEST MICHIGAN 7, CEDAR RAPIDS 8
12-9, 2nd in Eastern division

Lakeland picked up just its tenth win of the season as Jonah Nickerson got things back on track with a strong outing on Saturday. Saying Nickerson's outing was strong is a significant understatement, as he took a perfect game into the eighth inning of his fourth start of the season. Facing Major Leaguer Kevin Slowey for the second time in a week, the Flying Tigers mounted their attack after five shutout innings by the big leaguer. Justin Justice (2-for-4) led the way offensively, with his fourth extra base hit in four games, driving in two in the process.

Following Lakeland's lead, the Erie Seawolves picked up another win yesterday, throwing up six runs in the seventh inning to beat Altoona 9-3. Josh Rainwater was again solid, but despite six nice innings, Brett Jensen picked up the victory with 1-2/3 scoreless innings. Max St. Pierre led the way with a perfect day at the plate (4-4), including two doubles and two RBI. Max Leon (3-5) and Danny Worth (2-5) both picked up multiple hits, including a double each.

With all their extra inning games, the Whitecaps were bound to lose one, and that happened Saturday afternoon with a loss at the hand of the Cedar Rapids Kernals. Designated Hitter Joe Tucker ripped three hits in six trips to the plate, while Chris Carlson drove in two to bring his season total to 13. After three strong starts to begin the season, lefty Jon Kibler was roughed up for five runs in seven innings of work, but reliever Rudy Darrow took the loss, giving up his first earned run of the season in the bottom of the eleventh inning.

In his first appearance since clearing waivers and being activated to the Toledo roster, Yorman Bazardo was anything but spectacular, surrendering six hits and three runs in just four innings, without striking out a batter. Casey Fossum also had a rough outing, giving up three more runs in just 2-1/3 innings of work while walking three Indianapolis hitters. In spite of the rough start to the evening, and even with three-hit nights from Erick Almonte and Derek Wathan, Jeff Larish was the hero of the night. Larish tripled to deep center field in the bottom of the eleventh, out of the reach of Pittsburgh's top prospect Andrew McCutcheon, driving in Mike Hessman who had walked in the previous at-bat. The three-bagger gave Toledo the 7-6 win, and moved Toledo into first place in the West Division.

Posted by: Mark, 4/27

April 25th Games

AAA Toledo Mud Hens – TOLEDO 8, COLUMBUS 5
13-8, 2nd in West division

AA Erie SeaWolves – ERIE 10, ALTOONA 4
11-10, t-2nd in West division

A+ Lakeland Flying Tigers – DUNEDIN 5, LAKELAND 4
9-13, 5th in West division

A West Mich. Whitecaps – CEDAR RAPIDS 7, WEST MICH. 3
12-8, t-1st in Eastern division

Toledo and Erie both picked up wins, including yet another double digit run performance from the 'Wolves. Wilkin Ramirez had three hits, scored two runs and drove in two more to help lead the way, while Kody Kirkland blasted his first home run of the year. Daniel Christensen only gave up one earned run in six innings of work, but because Erie didn't turn up the offense until the sixth inning, reliever Anthony Tomey walked away with the win.

The 'Hens also had a big day at the plate - Mike Hessmand hit his seventh home run of the year, while Dane Sardinha drove in four. The story though was Francisco Cruceta, who gave up a run but picked up the win in two innings of work. Cruceta struck out four as he prepares to make his way back to the big leagues.

Lakeland was going blow for blow with Dunedin, up until Brendan Wise gave up a run in the ninth inning and Lakeland couldn't match in the bottom half. James Skelton had two hits, two RBI, and two stolen bases, while Brennan Boesch had two hits to raise his average to an abysmal .119. Duane Below got the start and no decision, giving up three runs is five innings of work.

And finally, Lauren Gagnier dropped to 0-2, giving up all seven Cedar Rapids runs. Despite getting outscored 7-3, West Michigan actually out-hit Cedar Rapids ten to eight, but they couldn't turn enough of those hits into runs.

Posted by: Wez, 4/26

April 24th Games

AAA Toledo Mud Hens – TOLEDO 7, COLUMBUS 3
12-8, 2nd in West division

AA Erie SeaWolves – HARRISBURG 8, ERIE 3
10-10, t-2nd in West division

A+ Lakeland Flying Tigers – DUNEDIN 3, LAKELAND 1
8-10, 5th in West division

A West Mich. Whitecaps – OFF DAY
12-7, t-1st in Eastern division

Stud right-hander Rick Porcello took his fourth loss of the young season, despite a solid outing. Tossing 5 1/3 innings of four hit, three run ball, Porcello wasn't dominant but was still solid. While he struck out four in his time on the mound, the more impressive feat was his 11:0 groundball to flyball ratio. Blue Jays first rounder Brett Cecil was stellar in three innings of work, leading the way for the Dunedin staff. Showing out for the Lakeland offense was infielder Louis Ott, who went 3-for-4 with a run driven in.

Brent Clevlen continues to show that the 2008 season may be a bit of a resurgence for him, blasting his third home run of the young season, while going 2-for-3. Mike Hessman tripled among his three hits, while Matt Joyce, Clete Thomas, and Derek Wathan each collected two knocks. Thomas' eighth inning bomb off Mike Bascik was his first of the year in his first minor league game. Eddie Bonine continued to impress on the hill, tossing seven excellent innings, dropping his season ERA to a sparkling 2.73.

On an ugly offensive day for Erie, shortstop Danny Worth continued to come alive, ripping his second home run of the season, while Freddy Guzman reached base twice and scored both times. Andrew Kown and Matt Righter combined to give up eight runs in 7-2/3 innings of work, leading to the 8-3 defeat at the hands of the Altoona Curve.

Posted by: Mark, 4/25

April 23rd Games

AAA Toledo Mud Hens – TOLEDO 4, COLUMBUS
11-8, 3rd in West division

AA Erie SeaWolves – ERIE 7, HARRISBURG 0
10-9, 2nd in West division

A+ Lakeland Flying Tigers – LAKELAND 3, DUNEDIN 1
8-10, 5th in West division

A West Mich. Whitecaps – WEST MICHIGAN 5, BELOIT 4
12-7, t-1st in Eastern division

The Toledo Mud Hens got back to their winnings ways last night, topping Columbus by a 4-1 margain. Jeff Larish accounted for the big blow, blasting his sixth home run of the season; tying him with Scranton-Wilkes Barre's Jason Lane and teammate Mike Hessman for the league lead. Mike Hollimon also slugged a home run and scored two times in just his second game of the season. On the hill, Chris Lambert tossed five scoreless frames, and Blaine Neal picked up his league leading sixth save of the season with a perfect ninth.

After coming within just a few hits of a no-hitter in his last start, Luis Marte was back at it again last night; this time tossing seven innings, allowing just one unearned run while striking out eleven. Behind such a stellar performance, the LFT managed a 3-1 win as Scott Sizemore, Ryan Strieby, and Jeff Kunkel each recorded two hits. Strieby knocked in two runs to provide all the offense the Tigers would need.

Following a miserable start his last time out, left-hander Luke French dazzled Erie fans with eight shutout innings, giving up only three hits while striking out three. Casey Fien finished off the shutout with a scoreless ninth, as the Seawolves won 7-0. The offense was led by second-year shortstop Danny Worth who continued to come alive; posting a 5-for-5 day with a double and triple while driving in two. Dusty Ryan also continued his hot ways, going 1-for-5 with a double and two steaks.

In what is becoming a regular occurance for the West Michigan Whitecaps, they again went to extra innings last night; pulling out a 5-4 victory in 13 innings. Audy Ciriaco and Kody Kaiser led off the 13th with a single and a walk, respectively. The hot-hitting Roger Tomas followed by beating out a sacrifice bunt attempt to load the bases, and Kyle Peter drove Ciriaco home with a single to left. Peter finished the game with four hits in six trips to the plate, while Ciriaco finished 3-for-6. Tomas and Jordan Newton both notched two hits including a triple apiece. On the hill, Manny Miguelez wasn't at his best, but pitched well enough to hold Beloit to four runs in 6-2/3 innings with eight strikeouts. Wilton Garica and Andrew Hess combined for 5-1/3 innings of scoreless relief work, followed by a clean top of the 13th from right-hander Rudy Darrow. The win moved Darrow to 3-0 on the season and extended his scoreless inning streak to 10-2/3 over ten appearances to start the 2008 season.

Posted by: Mark, 4/24

April 22nd Games

AAA Toledo Mud Hens – COLUMBUS 5, TOLEDO 3
10-7, 3rd in West division

AA Erie SeaWolves – ERIE 12, HARRISBURG 2
9-9, t-2nd in West division

A+ Lakeland Flying Tigers – FORT MYERS 10, LAKELAND 9
8-10, 5th in West division

A West Mich. Whitecaps – WEST MICHIGAN 5, BELOIT 3
11-7, t-1st in Eastern division

A busy day on the minor league front, so let's get to it!

The biggest highlight of the day -- at least for those looking for big league bullpen help -- was the performance of Francisco Cruceta in his Toledo debut. In three innings of relief work, Cruceta didn't allow a hit, walked one, and struck out six batters. That type of performance will warm the heart of many Tiger fans. Despite that dominating relief work, Francisco Beltran's troubles from Detroit, followed him to Toledo. Beltran allowed two runs in the top of the ninth, giving Columbus the win. In his season debut, second baseman Mike Hollimon managed a double to get off on the right foot. Also starring at the plate for the 'Hens were Mike Hessman and Dane Sardinha, who both homered in the loss.

Looking at the first place West Michigan Whitecaps, starting pitcher Alfredo Figaro finally allowed his first earned runs of the season, giving up two in six innings of work. Curtis Granderson continued to get on base for the 'Caps, picking up a hit and a walk. Casper Wells led the way at the plate, going 3-for-3 with two driven in, as Jordan Newton and Ronnie Bourquin both picked up two hits in the victory.

The offense exploded in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, as Erie put up twelve runs; scoring at least one run in each of the first six innings. Five players recorded multiple hits, led by Dusty Ryan's 3-for-4 performance. Deik Scram ripped his fourth bomb of the season, while blossoming prospect Wilkin Ramirez stroked a his third homer and fifth double of the year. Starting pitcher Ben Fritz turned in his third solid outing in four starts, giving up one earned run and striking out three in 6-1/3 innings. As he continues to comeback from a mild elbow problem, reliever Brett Jensen worked a scoreless ninth with one strikeout, lowering his ERA to 1.80 for the season.

The Lakeland Flying Tigers thought they had a win in the bag last night, until Freddi Dolsi gave up a one-out, two-run bomb to give Fort Myers the 10-9 win. Prior to Dolsi's meltdown, the game was blown open during Jordan Tata's first appearance of the season as he comes back from a broken bone in his hand. Tata walked four and gave up one hit, resulting in four runs in just two-thirds of an inning. For the second night in a row, Justin Justice went deep, with a sixth inning three run shot. Cale Iorg continued his hot hitting with three singles in five at-bats, raising his season average to a robust .311 mark thus far.

Posted by: Mark, 4/22

April 21st Games

AAA Toledo Mud Hens – OFF DAY
10-7, 3rd in West division

AA Erie SeaWolves – ERIE 3, HARRISBURG 4
8-9, t-2nd in West division

A+ Lakeland Flying Tigers – FORT MYERS 10, LAKELAND 4
8-10, 5th in West division

A West Mich. Whitecaps – WEST MICHIGAN 2, BELOIT 1
10-7, t-1st in Eastern division

Roger Tomas continued to lead the way offensively for the Whitecaps, with a 3-for-3 day, raising his season average to a robust .423 mark. In Curtis Granderson's second stint with West Michigan, he notched his second triple with a grounder to right, and Raul Casanova knocked another single as he continued his hot streak. However, the real star for the 'Caps was left-hander Ramon Garcia. Making his fourth start of the season, Garcia evened his record at 2-2 with eight dominating innings; allowing only six hits and striking out four. Noah Krol closed the door with a perfect ninth, including two punch outs.

Filling in for Jon Connolly as he pitches at Toledo, right-hander Josh Rainwater couldn't continue his recent success; this time giving up three runs in five innings of work, walking four and only striking out one. The Erie offense produced enough to keep Rainwater off the hook, but Anthony Tomey couldn't keep Harrisburg from winning the game with an eighth inning run. Kody Kirkland continued to slowly awaken from his early season slumber, going 1-for-3 on the day with two runs driven in.

Rounding out the day on the farm, Lakeland had a rough one in Fort Myers. Facing the rehabbing Kevin Slowey, the Flying Tigers managed a run in three innings agains him, but fanned five times in the process. One of the Twins top prospects, Deolis Guerra came on in relief, and the Tigers were again able to get to him for three runs in four innings of work. Unfortunately, Jonah Nickerson gave up six runs in 5-1/3 innings of work, including a grand slam to Johnny Woodard in the third. Leading the way offensively for the LFT, Jeramy Laster blasted his third home run of the season to dead center field, and managed an additional single in four trips to the plate.

Posted by: Mark, 4/22

April 20th Games

AAA Toledo Mud Hens – LOUISVILLE 5, TOLEDO 0
10-7, 2nd in West division

AA Erie SeaWolves – PPD: Rain
8-8, 2nd in West division

A+ Lakeland Flying Tigers – FORT MYERS 6, LAKELAND 2
8-7, 2nd in West division

A West Mich. Whitecaps – WEST MICH. 6, BURLINGTON 5
9-7, t-1st in Eastern division

For the second consecutive day, the West Michigan Whitecaps snatched an extra inning victory away from the Burlington Bees. After working as one of the hitting stars in Sunday's win, infielder Roger Tomas managed to do it again. Following a leadoff single by Casper Wells in the eleventh, Kody Kaiser followed with a bunt single, and they were moved over on a sacrifice bunt by shortstop Audy Ciriaco. Up stepped Tomas, who lifted a sacrifice fly to win the game. Tomas finished the game 1-for-2 with two runs driven in. Collecting multiple hits for the 'Caps were Kody Kaiser (2-5) and Chris Carlson (2-5), while Paul Nardozzi picked up the win with a socreless final inning with two strikeouts. Lefty Jon Kibler tossed seven solid innings to set the tone for West Michigan.

The Mud Hens' Mike Hessman had a monster day, but was unable to help his team to victory. With three home runs and five driven in on Sunday, Hessman tied Matt Joyce and Jeff Larish for the team lead in bombs. Brent Clevlen also collected four hits on the day, including two doubles, to raise his average to a more respectable .269. The pitching let the 'Hens down, as Jon Connolly (five earned runs in 3-2/3), Anastacio Martinez (three earned runs in 1-2/3), and Matt Rusch (two earned runs in one inning) were all roughed up on the day, including two more hits from baseball's top prospect, outfielder Jay Bruce.

The Lakeland Flying Tigers also had their struggles Sunday night, managing a 6-2 defeat at the hands of the Fort Myers Miracle. Reigning TigsTown Pitcher of the Year Duane Below was roughed up for three earned runs and seven walks in just 4-1/3 innings of work, to take the loss. Cale Iorg continued his hot hitting with his second triple of the season, while Jeramy Laster and Jeff Kunkel both contributed doubles to the Tigers offensive effort.

Posted by: Mark, 4/21

Tigs Town Top Stories