Triple-A: Durham Bulls (Rays) 6, Norfolk Tides 3
In the Tides’ first game back from the All-Star break, there were plenty of interesting tidbits to unpack—despite the loss. Current Norfolk ace DL Hall (Orioles’ #4 prospect, MLB Top 100 #66) got the start for Norfolk but only threw one inning—allowing one run and striking out two. All reports out of Durham say that this was a planned shorter outing for Hall and that there are no injury concerns for the International League’s top strikeout artist. The odd nature of this short outing led plenty to speculate that Hall may be Baltimore-bound, though that speculation was also later put to rest.
The pitchers that came after Hall—namely Mike Baumann, Chris Vallimont and Blaine Knight—could not hold Norfolk’s early 3-1 lead. By the time Knight finished his two-out appearance to end the sixth, Durham had put up six runs to take control of the game.
The offense for the Tides was led by Terrin Vavra (Orioles’ #12) and Jordan Westburg (Orioles’ #5, MLB #93). Both went 2-4 with a run scored, Vavra hitting two doubles and Westburg driving in Vavra with a first-inning double. After hitting leadoff in the Futures Game, GUNNAR HENDERSON (Orioles’ #2, MLB #5) marked his return to Triple-A by going 1-4 with a single in the eighth inning.
Double-A: Bowie Baysox 4, Richmond Flying Squirrels (Giants) 2
The Baysox started their second half with a late-inning rally to ground the Flying Squirrels. Outfielder Shayne Fontana launched a two-run single into left field in the top of the seventh to break a 2-2 tie. Despite that being his only hit in three at-bats, Fontana was the offensive star for Bowie, as he also had an RBI sac fly in the third. Star prospect Colton Cowser (Orioles #3, MLB #41) had a relatively quiet night at the plate—going 0-2—but walk twice and came around to score both times.
Former 19th-round pick Adam Stauffer was the star on the mound for Bowie Friday night. The 6’7” righty came in during the fourth inning, throwing three innings, striking out four and earning the win. Stauffer has been one of the Baysox’s main weapons out of the bullpen, leading all Bowie relievers with 52 strikeouts and posting an impressive 10.6 Ks/9.
High-A: Aberdeen IronBirds 9, Greenville Drive (Red Sox) 5
The IronBirds’ offense showed plenty of firepower Friday in their win over the Drive. Aberdeen led off the game with a walk from Darell Hernaiz and singles by Heston Kjerstad (Orioles’ #8) and John Rhodes to jump-start a 3-run first inning. The offensive fireworks got even more explosive in the fifth, as Ryan Higgins and Hernaiz started the inning with back-to-back solo shots. Left-fielder Toby Welk capped off the five-run frame with a three-run homer to extend the Aberdeen lead to 8-0. Welk was the star of the offensive outburst, finishing 2-4 with 4 RBIs. Overall, seven out of nine Ironbirds registered a hit, with five registering multiple hits.
While the offense were all engines go, the bullpen had hit a couple of speed bumps in closing out the game. After being staked a 9-0 lead, the Aberdeen relievers allowed two runs in the seventh and three runs in the ninth to make things more interesting than they should have been. First man out of the pen Houston Roth did shine in his three innings, holding the Drive to two hits and no runs while striking out five.
Low-A: Fredericksburg Nationals 8, Delmarva Shorebirds 6 (F/10)
While the IronBirds’ bullpen was able to avoid late-inning heartbreak, Delmarva’s relievers were not so lucky on Friday. Outbursts in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings saw the Shorebirds take a 4-1 lead into the eighth inning. However, a leadoff solo home run opened the offensive floodgates for Fredericksburg, as they scored four in the eighth to take a 5-4 lead. Infielder Luis Valdez tied things in the bottom of the eighth on a sac fly to eventually send things to extra innings.
The free baseball wasn’t kind to Delmarva’s home crowd though, as a leadoff walk led to a two-run double for Fredricksburg and ultimately the Nationals went into the bottom of the 10th with an 8-5 lead. The Shorebirds were able to get a Manfred Man run of their own, but nothing else in the bottom of the 10th to seal their defeat.
If you had to pick a Shorebirds’ player of the game from the disappointing affair, those honors would surely go to Delmarva starter Deivy Cruz. The 18-year-old from the Dominican Republic struck out six over the first three innings, allowing only two hits and one unearned run. The performance was somewhat diminished by the six walks Cruz allowed—although perhaps his ability to work around those walks to only allow one run is a sign of better things to come. Doing his best to be the organization’s Dominican DL Hall, Cruz “balances” an 11.6 K/9 rate with a 6.75 BB/9 rate in 33.1 innings this season.
Saturday’s Scheduled Games:
Norfolk Tides at Durham Bulls, 6:35 pm. Starter: TBD
Bowie Baysox at Richmond Flying Squirrels, 6:05 pm. Starter: Drew Rom (5-1, 3.92 ERA)
Aberdeen IronBirds at Greenville Drive, 7:05 pm. Starter: TBD
Delmarva Shorebirds vs. Fredericksburg Nationals, 7:05 pm. Starter: Edgar Portes (0-3, 4.94 ERA)