Erie MLN: SeaWolves Alone in First

The Erie SeaWolves find themselves alone in first-place. They are 5-1 during their recent road trip with one game remaining. The ‘Wolves are 8-2 in their last 10 games and are now ½ game ahead of the Altoona Curve in the Eastern League Western Division. Erie also has a one game lead over Richmond.

Erie (23-16) started the road trip off against a familiar foe when they traveled to Bowie (18-21). The ‘Wolves continued their mastery of the Baysox taking three of the four games at Prince Georges' Stadium. Erie is 8-2 against Bowie on the season.

After finishing the series against the Baysox the ‘Wolves traveled to Richmond (22-17) to take on the Flying Squirrels. It was the first time that the two teams have ever met. Richmond, the Double-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants were known as the Connecticut Defenders last season. Erie entered the series trailing the Flying Squirrels by just a game for second-place.

Erie finishes their road trip on Thursday morning against Richmond before returning to Jerry Uht Park for a four game series against the first-place Altoona Curve. Erie is 7-3 against the Curve on the season. After the short series against the Curve, Erie goes on the road to play Trenton for four games.

Hail "Cesar"

Cesar Nicolas (.289) has proven to be one of the unsung heroes for the ‘Wolves this season. In the last 10 games Nicolas is batting .353 (12-for-34) and has driven in six runs.

Nicolas' 29 RBIs on the season trail only TigsTown's No. 5 prospect Wilkin Ramirez's team leading 32 RBIs. "Cesar has been doing a great job of driving in runs for us this season," said manager Phil Nevin. "He takes great at-bats, and is someone we want up with runners in scoring position."

Nicolas at this time a year ago was in independent league baseball with the Grand Prairie AirHogs. He was not sure where his baseball career was going. He put in the hard work it takes to make it back to affiliated baseball and hoped for a chance to have and opportunity of playing in the Major Leagues someday.

"Last year I put in a lot of hard work," said Nicolas. "I'm here to try and make it to the Major Leagues." "That's what the goal for everyone here is."

His hard work has not only paid dividends for the SeaWolves, but for himself as well.

No More B-I-N-G-O Average for Bertram

At Jerry Uht Park the fans play baseball bingo. It is a fun game where the fans mark off squares based on plays that happen in the game. It's not fun as a player though if your batting average resembles a number in a bingo game.

Last year Michael Bertram got the call up to Erie, and in his 33 games here he batted .285 with eight home runs. So there was no problem expecting he would put up those kinds of numbers this year in a full season at the Double-A level, if not better. Bertram's batting average though stood at .049 on April 21. Like most of the Erie hitters he got off to a horrendous start to the 2010 season.

Nevin never wavered though. "We got a team full of guys who can hit," Nevin said. Bertram has made Nevin's words ring true. Since April 24 Bertram has hit safely in 22 the last 24 games. He is hitting .361 over that span, and is currently on an 11 game hitting-streak. During the hitting streak Bertram is extremely hot going 20-for-43 (.465).

Bertram's season average now stands at .272.

Oliver Moves to 4-1, Henry has Big Day

TigsTown's No. 9 prospect Andy Oliver keeps showing why the Tigers couldn't pass him up with their second round choice in last year's Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft. In his last three starts Oliver is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA.

In his most recent start Oliver (4-1, 3.79) was locked in a match-up with Richmond's Daryl Maday (6-0, 1.57). Both starters allowed only one earned run, but Maday left after five innings and did not factor in the decision.

Oliver pitched 6 2/3 innings and got the win 3-1. It was a much longer outing for him then his last start where he only threw one inning before a rain delay ended his night. The lefty struck out three while allowing seven hits and three walks.

The ‘Wolves pounded out 15 hits in the game. Both Justin Henry and Bertram were 3-for-5 for Erie. Henry had a hand in all of the Erie runs. The second baseman drove in one run and scored twice. He is hitting .588 (10-for-17) over his last four ballgames.

Nicolas and Bertram had the other two RBIs for the ‘Wolves.

Quick Hits

- Henry is batting .394 (13-for-33) over his last 10 games played. He has been seeing some time in the leadoff spot for the ‘Wolves.

- Catcher Andy Bouchie is hitting .300 (3-for-10) in his first three games since being called up from Lakeland.

- The ‘Wolves lead the Eastern League in home runs with 43 on the season. Ramirez is the league leader in home runs with nine.

- Erie is now 9-0-1 in series since dropping the first two of the season. The ‘Wolves are now 23-8 since opening the year with eight consecutive losses.

- Don't run on Andy Dirks. He leads all Eastern League outfielders with 10 assists on the season.

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