Erie MLN: Seawolves' Struggles Continue

June is finally over and not a moment too soon for the Erie SeaWolves. After struggling through a month where they failed to win a game at Jerry Uht Park, and finished it with a 5-22 record, the ‘Wolves can only hope for better results in July.

Erie (31-48) closed out the past week going 0-8 (including a completed game against the Baysox from June 6). They were even swept by the Bowie Baysox (43-36), a team earlier in the season that the "Wolves dominated. Erie entered the series 9-4 against Bowie on the season.

The week began ending their season series against the Trenton Thunder (47-31). In the finale the ‘Wolves lost 11-2, surrendering 11 unanswered runs. Andy Shawler did an excellent job in a spot-start after Andy Oliver was called up to Detroit. Shawler worked 4 1/3 innings allowing zero runs, while striking out five.

"Shawler did an outstanding job for us," said manager Phil Nevin. "He's worked out of the bullpen all year and wasn't stretched out." "I couldn't have asked for more from him.

The 11 unanswered runs came after the seventh inning.

"They've had one big inning against us in every game we played against them," said manager Phil Nevin.

Erie finished the year 3-11 against the Thunder.

Richmond (37-42) followed the Thunder in Erie and swept the three game series. All three games were close, but the ‘Wolves could not get over the hump. With the sweep Erie finished June winless at Jerry Uht Park. Erie is now 12-24 at home on the season.

The same problems in the Trenton series plagued Erie against the Flying Squirrels. In the series opener Duane Below got the start and surrendered a four run inning in the top of the third, otherwise Below was impressive striking out five in his four innings of work.

"They have a lot of quality hitters in their line-up and Duane did a nice job," said Nevin. "We just seem to have one inning that always gets away from us, but we're playing good baseball."

Below Continuing Comeback

The results may not always be what TigsTown's No. 49 prospect Duane Below wants as he continues his way back from Tommy John surgery, but he shows flashes off being a dominant starter.

The left-hander is limited to about 75-80 pitches at this time and has to try and make the most out of every outing. The problem that has plagued Below on the season is that he can't seem to avoid a long inning. His record stands at 3-7 on the year.

"We try to keep him from throwing a lot of pitches in an inning," said Nevin.

Pitching coach Ray Burrus expanded on Nevin's previous statement.

"He has to get through the physical barriers and make the most of his pitch count," said Burrus. ‘Stuff wise it is good enough, but we are working on him having the mental approach of making things happen early in the count."

Burrus also said that they are working on Below working the ball in-and-out on hitters more and staying committed to the pitch he is supposed to throw.

"I want him to believe in the pitch, trust it," Burrus said. "Coming off an injury can mess with your mind a bit and we are trying to help him back from it."

Below started the finale of the Bowie series working 5 2/3 innings allowing two runs, while striking out four.

Bombs Away Bouchie

Starting catcher Andy Bouchie tried to single-handedly break Erie's losing streak in their finale against the Flying Squirrels.

Bouchie hit the first of his two home runs in the bottom of the second inning, a three run shot that gave the ‘Wolves an early 3-0 lead.

After Richmond battled back and tied the game in the top of the seventh Bouchie broke the tie with a solo home run in the bottom half.

Erie could not hold on and lost 5-4.

"I don't want to get cheated, especially around here," said Bouchie. "I have a new opportunity and I want to take advantage of it."

Bouchie was originally drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2006 First-year player draft before making his way to the Tigers' organization.

His stat line is .212/7/18 for the season.

All-Star Honors

Three SeaWolves were named to the Eastern League All-Star team. Zach Simons, Brooks Brown, and Andy Dirks will represent the team when the game is played on July 14, at Harrisburg's Metro Bank Park.

For Simons (TigsTown's No. 33 prospect) it is the second straight year the reliever has been named to the Eastern League All-Star game. He has been lights-out of late for the ‘Wolves allowing zero runs over his last 14 2/3 innings of work.

Brown is making his first appearance in an Eastern League All-Star game. He has been named two other previous times when he was a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. Brown has been one of Erie's most consistent pitchers since moving into the starting rotation. He has a 5-5 record and leads the Eastern League with two complete games.

Andy Dirks (TigsTown's No. 47 prospect) was selected to his first All-Star game. The outfielder is putting up solid numbers on the season batting .285/10/40. The 10 home runs are a career high for the multi-faceted outfielder.

Dirks is not just getting things done with the bat though. He has 16 stolen bases and leads all outfielders in assists with 14.

Quick Hits

- Erie opens the month of July on the road in Richmond. The ‘Wolves took two of three the last time they visited The Diamond. Erie lost the finale of the series after reaching first-place and have been in a downward spiral ever since.

- Former SeaWolves Andy Oliver dropped to 0-2 for the Detroit Tigers.

- After a four game series against Richmond Erie returns home to play the Bowie Baysox for four games before welcoming the Akron Aeros.

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