New Britain Rock Cats: The Rock Cats lost their second straight game on Friday, dropping a 7-3 contest against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Nick Blackburn (0-1), who burst onto the prospect scene in 2005, was roughed up in his first outing of the year, allowing five earned runs in 4.1 innings of work. The right-hander allowed eight hits, which included a solo homerun to Chip Cannon in the third inning. Justin Olson took the ball in relief, and in his 2.2 innings of work allowed an earned run on two hits, while striking out three. Jay Sawatski was the final Rock Cats pitcher of the night, and also allowed an earned run in his two innings of relief. The Cats' staff struggled on a breezy night in New Britain, and will be looking for their first win of the season on Saturday when they again play the Fisher Cats in the third game of a four game set.
The Cats got multiple hit performances by four of their prospects, with top third baseman prospect leading the way with a 2-4 night. The slugging three bagger wrapped a double in the game, and also drove in his first run of the 2006 campaign. Incumbent right fielder Doug Deeds smashed his first home run of the season, as he and Moses had the only extra-base hits of the game. Tommy Watkins picked up two hits in the game, and former Fort Myers star Scott Whitrock picked up two hits as well. The only other Rock Cat with a multi-hit game was J.R. Taylor (2-4, run), as the left side of the infield combined for four hits in eight at-bats. The Cats send Errol Simonitsch to the hill on Saturday, as they look to the lefty to pick up their first win of the season.
Fort Myers Miracle: The elite starting rotation of the Miracle was on full display on Friday, as Anthony Swarzak handcuffed the Sarasota Reds in his 2006 debut while leading the Miracle to a 6-0 victory. Swarzak (1-0) was definitely on his game Friday, as he held the Reds scoreless during his five innings of work. The young right-hander also struck out five while walking two, and allowed only four hits. Angel Garcia took the ball in relief and was also stellar, tossing two innings of scoreless relief, while striking out one. Jonathan Martinez picked up his first save of the season, blanking the Reds in his two innings of relief. The three pitchers showed exactly why this pitching staff is considered by many as the best in the Florida State League.
Two Miracle hitters posted multi-hit efforts in the game, with Garret Guzman picking up right where he left off on Thursday. The left fielder wrapped two hits for the second straight night, and he also drove in two runs. David Winfree, who was the Twins' Minor League Player of the Year in 2005, showed his lumber in this one, wrapping two hits in five at-bats. He also scored a run, drove in one, and picked up his first extra-base hit of the year. Trevor Plouffe, who had a bad defensive season in 2005, had his second error in as many games on Friday, and also posted an 0-for at the plate. Kyle Geiger, who was one of the better bats in the Miracle lineup in 2005, went 1-4 and scored a run in this contest. Alexi Casilla once again showed why the Twins picked him up in the J.C. Romero trade, as the young second baseman swiped two bags in this one. The Miracle look to nab their third straight victory on Saturday, as they send Jay Rainville to the hill for their home opener.
Beloit Snappers: The Snappers won a barn burner on Friday, scoring a run in the ninth to beat the visiting Cedar Rapids Kernels 2-1. Brian Duensing took the ball to start the game, and made his first start of the 2006 season a good one. The young left hander was nearly untouchable, as he allowed only one hit in his five innings of work. The Nebraska-product held the Kernels to one hit in his five innings of work, and struck out seven along the way. David Shinskie made Duensing's effort a moot point when he allowed the Kernels to score a run to open the sixth. Overall, Shinskie allowed an unearned run in his 1.2 innings of relief, and handed the ball off to Jose Lugo in the seventh. Lugo held Cedar Rapids scoreless in his 1.1 innings of work, before giving the ball to Yohan Pino. Pino (1-0) would go on to pick up the win, as he fired scoreless ball in his one inning of work.
Offensively, Henry Sanchez stole the show, as the young slugger belted his second home run in as many days. His homer, with two outs in the ninth, was the clincher, as the Snappers ran their record to 2-0. Paul Kelly, who was the Snappers' designated hitter, drove in the only other run for the Snappers, as the slick-fielding infielder wrapped two doubles on the night. He was one of only three Snappers to record a hit in the game, as Dwayne White joined him and Sanchez in the hits department. One low spot for the Beloit team was Steven Tolleson, who recorded two errors in his first start at shortstop, one of which led to a Cedar Rapids run. Beloit looks to take the third game of a four-game set on Saturday, as they look to take the series edge.