Erie MLN: No Place Like Home

After a rough first week of the season the Erie SeaWolves returned home to Jerry Uht Park looking to avoid the worst start in their history. Unfortunately the ‘Wolves didn't accomplish this falling to 0-8 after losing the home opener to the Altoona Curve.

Then things clicked. Erie went on a four game winning streak taking the last two games of the Curve series and the first two games of their series against Bowie.

Bowie entered the series as the top team in the Western Division and Altoona was second in the division.

The ‘Wolves won the shortened series against the Curve 2-1, and Bowie 2-1. Erie's record now stands at 4-9 after the rough start.

Weber Continues Jerry Uht Mastery

After a rainout on Friday manager Phil Nevin sent Thad Weber to the mound in search of the SeaWolves first win of the season against the Altoona Curve. "Thad is a gamer, and will battle," said Nevin.

The last time Weber (0-1, 1.64) pitched at home he threw a no-hitter against the Akron Aeros. He began the game off with four straight hitless innings before surrendering a ground-rule double to Matt Hague in the top of the fifth. "I was just trying to give us a chance to win," said Weber. "I ran into trouble in the sixth but I was able to pound the strike zone and get out of it."

Weber continued his strong pitching efforts at Jerry Uht Park with six strong innings, allowing only one run on one hit while striking out three Curve hitters.

"Weber was unbelievable today, especially with a tight strike zone," said catcher Max St. Pierre.

St. Pierre Celebrates in Style

Weber didn't factor in the decision, but his battery mate St. Pierre (.261) did. On his 30th birthday St. Pierre delivered a game winning two-run walk-off shot in the bottom of the ninth to give Erie a 6-5 win for their first of the season. It was the second home run of the game for the Erie catcher.

TigsTown's No. 11 prospect shortstop Cale Iorg (.152) drew a walk to lead off the bottom of the Ninth inning. St. Pierre came up with the intention of sacrificing Iorg over to second to put him into scoring position.

"I knew I had to get the bunt down, but he kept throwing me off-speed stuff and I kept pushing it foul," said St. Pierre.

After getting two-strikes St. Pierre hammered a pitch over the left field fence for the game-winning blast.

"It's a heck of a way to celebrate your birthday, and for us to get our first win," said Nevin. "Anytime you can get a win like this it can get the attitude rolling for the team."

Oliver Strong in Home Debut

TigsTown's No. 9 prospect Andy Oliver (1-1, 5.59) made his second start of the season, and his home debut against the Altoona Curve on Saturday April 17.

The 2009 second-round pick struggled in his first start of the season against Binghamton giving up six runs (five earned) in 3 1/3 innings. Although he struck out five hitters, he also struggled with his control walking five Met hitters.

"I was anxious in my first start and rushed my delivery," said Oliver.

As tough as his first outing was Oliver rebounded and was impressive in his second outing of the season. After a rocky first inning where he gave up a run on one hit, and after allowing two hits in the second the lefty settled down to retire the next 12 batters he faced.

"In the second Jeff (Kunkel) came out and told me to relax and it allowed my arm to catch up with my body," said Oliver

He needed only 87 pitches to finish his six impressive innings of work. Oliver allowed only one run on three hits while striking out three batters.

The 6-4 left-hander flashed the stuff that makes him a possible top of the rotation starter. Throwing as hard as 95 mph and sitting in between 91-93, Oliver kept the Curve batters off balance mixing in a sharp-breaking slider. The southpaw not only impressed the hometown crowd, but Nevin as well.

"He's got a heck of an arm," said Nevin. "When he pitches ahead he can really put guys away."

Catching Fire

Coming into the home stand leftfielder Andy Dirks was struggling like many of his teammates. The leadoff hitter was batting .115 when he stepped to the plate in game one of the home stand.

In his first plate appearance at hitter-friendly Jerry Uht Park, Dirks hit a solo home run to jump start the ‘Wolves offense. Dirks would finish the day 2-for-5 on his way to five straight multi-hit games.

The leadoff hitter has been setting the table for the ‘Wolves offense with his hitting and hustle.

"Dirksy is a grinder, a dirt-bag, he gets things started for us," said Nevin. "I love having him at the top of our line-up."

Dirks finished the home stand 11-for-24 (.458) with two home runs and 7 RBIs. He raised his batting average to .280.

"It feels good to get on a roll and have a good home stand," said Dirks.

Quick Hits

- Audy Ciriaco arrived in Erie on Tuesday and immediately made an impact. Ciriaco (TigsTown's No. 16 prospect) went 2-for-4 in his first game with two stolen bases. In just his second in Erie he connected with a solo shot off of the Erie Civic Center. Ciriaco in two games was 3-for-7.

- Outfielder Josh Burrus got his first hit of the season in the ‘Wolves first win. Burrus came through in the clutch with an RBI single that tied the ball game up in the bottom of the eighth. Burrus (.227) finished the home stand on a three game hitting streak.

- Erie finished the home stand 4-2. The ‘Wolves go on the road to play four games in Altoona and then three games in Bowie.

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